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Title: Report to Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State For the Home Department, from the Poor Law Commissioners, on an Inquiry Into the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain; With Appendices

Author: Edwin Chadwick

Release date: April 16, 2021 [eBook #65090]

Language: English

Credits: Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by Command of Her Majesty, July, 1842.


Poor Law Commission Office, Somerset House,
9th July, 1842.

On the 14th May, 1838, the Poor Law Commissioners presented to Lord John Russell a report “relative to certain charges which have been disallowed by the auditors of unions in England and Wales;” together with two supplementary reports; one a “Report on the prevalence of certain Physical Causes of Fever in the Metropolis, which might be removed by proper sanitary measures, by Neil Arnott, M.D., and James Phillips Kay, M.D.;” the other a “Report on some of the Physical Causes of Sickness and Mortality to which the Poor are peculiarly exposed, and which are capable of removal by Sanitary Regulations exemplified in the present condition of the Bethnal Green and Whitechapel Districts, as ascertained on a personal inspection by Southwood Smith, M.D., Physician to the London Fever Hospital.” (See Fourth Annual Report, App. A, No. 1.)

On the 29th April, 1839, the Commissioners received from Dr. Southwood Smith a “Report on the prevalence of Fever in Twenty Metropolitan Unions or Parishes during the year ended the 20th March, 1838,” which they appended to their Fifth Annual Report. (App. C, No. 2.)

ivIn August, 1839, Lord John Russell addressed the following letter to the Commissioners:—

“Whitehall, August 21, 1839.

“The Queen having been pleased to comply with the prayer of an humble address presented to her Majesty, in pursuance of an order of the House of Lords, dated 19th August, 1839, that ‘Her Majesty will be pleased to cause inquiry to be made as to the extent to which the causes of disease stated in the Appendix A, No. 1, of the Poor Law Commissioners’ Fourth Annual Report, and Appendix C, No. 2, of their Fifth Annual Report, to prevail amongst the labouring classes in the metropolis, prevail also amongst the labouring classes in other parts of England and Wales, and that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause the results of such inquiry to be communicated to the House’—I have to desire that you will cause inquiry to be made accordingly, and that you will prepare a report upon the result of such inquiry, and transmit the same to me, in order that it may be laid before the House of Lords.

“I am, Gentlemen, your obedient servant.
J. Russell.

With the view of making the inquiry directed by Lord John Russell’s letter, we addressed, in the month of November following, an instruction to our Assistant Commissioners to report upon such parts of the subject as were likely to come under their observation. We likewise addressed letters to the several Boards of Guardians of Unions in England and Wales, and their respective medical officers, requesting them to furnish us with information in answer to certain queries. (App. Nos. 1, 2, and 3.)

The steps which we thus took for conducting the inquiry which we were instructed to make have produced a large body of information, from which we have selected for our present Report that portion which seemed to us most important to the public, and most worthy of consideration by Her Majesty’s Government.

From the reports transmitted to us by our Assistant Commissioners we subjoin a report from Mr. Gilbert on the sanitary condition of the labouring population in Devon and Cornwall: vthe reports from Mr. Mott and Mr. Power with relation to the sanitary condition of the population of Manchester and the adjacent manufacturing districts, which will be found to be corroborative of the reports of Dr. Baron Howard and Dr. Duncan: one from Mr. Twisleton with relation to the sanitary condition of the population of Norfolk and Suffolk: one from Mr. Tufnell with relation to the sanitary condition of the labouring population of Kent and Sussex: a report from Mr. Parker on the sanitary state of the labouring population in the counties of Berks, Bucks, and Oxford: one from Mr. Weale on cottage accommodation in the counties of Bedford, Northampton, and Stafford,—a report from Mr. Senior on the sanitary condition of the labouring population in the counties of Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham, and Rutland: one from Sir Edmund Head on the dwellings of the labouring classes, and on the means of procuring better cottage accommodation in the counties of Gloucester, Hereford, Monmouth, Salop, Worcester, Brecknock, and Radnor; three reports from Sir John Walsham on the condition of the dwellings of the labouring population in Durham, Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Cumberland; and a communication from Mr. Day on the cost of erection, repairs, and rents of labourers’ cottages in Salop, Cheshire, and North Wales.

We have likewise received several valuable reports upon towns and districts in England from medical men resident upon the spot.

We have obtained a report from Mr. Hodgson and a committee of medical gentlemen of Birmingham on the sanitary condition of the labouring population in that town.

We also append a report on the sanitary condition of the dwellings of the labouring classes, &c., in Manchester, which we have obtained from Dr. Baron Howard, physician to the Ardwick and Ancoats Dispensary of that town:

Also, one on the condition of the labouring population in Liverpool, from Dr. Duncan.

One on the condition of the labouring population in Derby, from Dr. Baker.

viOne on the condition of the labouring population of Truro, from Dr. Barham.

One on the condition of the labouring population of Brighton, from Dr. Jenks.

One on the sanitary condition of the labouring population in the town of Wolverhampton, by Dr. Dehane.

One on the prevalence of fever in the parish of Breadsall, Derbyshire, by Dr. Kennedy and Mr. Senior.

One on the sanitary state of the town of Stafford, by Dr. Edward Knight.

One on an improved description of cottage tenements for the labouring classes, by Mr. Edmund Ashworth.

One on the sanitary condition of the town of Lancaster, Dr. de Vitrié.

One on the sanitary condition of the town of Leeds, by Mr. Robert Baker.

The detailed statements which we received from the Boards of Guardians, and the Union medical officers, were too voluminous for insertion at length in the present Report; but we have caused them to be carefully examined, and some of the most important results which they contained have been extracted in the manner which we shall presently explain.

It will be observed that the inquiry which we were directed by Lord John Russell to make, in accordance with the address of the House of Lords, was limited to England and Wales. Subsequently, however, we received instructions from the Marquis of Normanby, dated 28th January, 1840, directing us to extend our inquiries to the causes of disease and destitution amongst the working classes in Scotland.

On the receipt of these instructions, we caused a circular letter to the medical practitioners to be sent to the provosts of all the Scotch burghs, with a request that they would put us in communication with the officers of the medical charities and establishments within their jurisdiction. In the same letter we stated fully the objects of the inquiry, and requested to be viiinformed as to the general state of the main sewers, drainage, &c., of the several towns. (Appendix, Nos. 4 and 5.)

In Scotland, with a few exceptions, none of the medical profession are engaged in the public service as medical officers; and we were therefore compelled to rely on the exertions of the private medical practitioners, from whom we received extensive, zealous, and efficient aid. The President of the College of Surgeons of Edinburgh communicated to us a resolution passed by that body, recommending that all members and licentiates of the college should give every aid in their power to the inquiry into the sanitary condition of the poor. We directed additional queries to be issued to the members of the college, from some of whom we received information similar to that obtained from the medical officers in England.

With respect to the sanitary state of towns and districts in Scotland, we subjoin the following reports from medical gentlemen:—

A report from Dr. Arnott upon Edinburgh and Glasgow:

One report from Dr. Scott Alison on the sanitary condition of the colliery population of Tranent, and the adjacent districts:

One report on the condition of the labouring population of Musselburgh from Mr. Stevenson, surgeon:

One report on the condition of the labouring population of Ayr from Dr. Sym:

One on the condition of the labouring population, Stirling, from Mr. W. H. Forrest, surgeon:

One on the condition of the labouring population in Dumfries, from Dr. M’Lellan:

One on the sanitary condition of the poor of Aberdeen, by Drs. Kilgour and Galen:

One on the sanitary condition of the town of Lanark, by Mr. John Gibson, surgeon:

One on the sanitary condition of the city of St. Andrews, by Mr. Adamson, surgeon:

One on the sanitary state of the town of Greenock, by Dr. Laurie:

viiiOne on the sanitary condition of Tain and Easter Ross, by Mr. James Cameron, surgeon.

We have likewise received a report on the sanitary condition of the labouring population in Inverness, from Mr. Anderson, solicitor; and one on the sanitary condition of the Old Town of Edinburgh, by Mr. William Chambers.

As our inquiries led us to believe that considerable doubt exists as to the provisions of the existing law of Scotland upon matters concerning the public health, and as there is not in Scotland any local administrative machinery similar to that of the English unions which can exercise a superintendence over the health of the working classes, we obtained the services of Mr. J. H. Burton, advocate of Edinburgh, to report on the legal provisions existing in that city and in other parts of Scotland, and on the additional legislative measures which appeared, from the reports of the medical gentlemen, to be expedient for the improvement of the sanitary condition of the population of that part of the empire.

We also obtained the services of Mr. Charles R. Baird, of Glasgow, writer to the signet, who was pointed out to our notice by the circumstance of his having paid much attention to the condition of the labouring population of that city to report on the powers with which the local authorities are at present invested by law, and the additional powers they may need for the protection of the health of the inhabitants.

It will be observed that the letter of Lord John Russell, in accordance with the address of the House of Lords to Her Majesty, merely directed us to make inquiry as to the extent to which the causes of disease, stated in the Reports of Drs. Arnott and Kay, and of Dr. Southwood Smith, to prevail amongst the labouring classes of the metropolis, prevail also amongst the labouring classes in other parts of England and Wales, and to transmit the results of that inquiry to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. We should, therefore, have complied with the letter of our instructions if we had merely laid before you the information which we have collected in answer to the inquiries which we circulated. It appeared to us, however, that so large a mass of miscellaneous ixevidence would not be likely to convey a distinct view of the subject of inquiry if we presented it in an undigested form to Her Majesty’s Government; and we, therefore, requested our secretary, Mr. Chadwick, to peruse the information which we had received, (including the returns from the boards of guardians and union medical officers,) and, by comparing the different statements with such authentic facts bearing upon the question as he might collect from other sources, to frame a report which should exhibit the principal results of the inquiry which we were instructed to conduct. We subjoin the Report which Mr. Chadwick has prepared in accordance with this request; and we present to you this, and the other accompanying documents, in the full assurance that, as they contain matters seriously concerning the welfare of the community in general, and particularly of the working classes, they will receive the attentive consideration of Her Majesty’s Government.

We have the honour to be,
Your very faithful and obedient Servants


1.—Circular Letter of Instructions to the Assistant Commissioners in England.

Poor Law Commission Office, Somerset House,
8th November, 1839.

Sir,—I am directed by the Poor Law Commissioners to call your attention to the following letter lately addressed to them by Lord John Russell.

Whitehall, August 21st, 1839.

“Gentlemen,—The Queen having been pleased to comply with the prayer of an humble address presented to Her Majesty in pursuance of an Order of the House of Lords, dated 19th of August, 1839, that ‘Her Majesty will be pleased to cause inquiry to be made as to the extent to which the causes of disease stated in the Appendix A., No. 1, of the Poor Law Commissioners’ Fourth Annual Report, and Appendix C., No. 2, of their Fifth Annual Report, to prevail amongst the labouring classes in the metropolis, prevail also amongst the labouring classes in other parts of England and Wales; and that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause the results of such inquiry to be communicated to the House,’ I have to desire that you will cause inquiry to be made accordingly, and that you will prepare a report upon the results of such inquiry, and transmit the same to me in order that it may be laid before the House of Lords.

“I am, Gentlemen,
“Your obedient Servant,
J. Russell.”

The Commissioners consider this the proper time for making arrangements to obtain the returns and information on which they may prepare a report to be submitted to the House of Lords in the ensuing Session of Parliament.

The Commissioners request your particular attention to the subject, as one of great importance to the labouring classes, inasmuch as it may lead to the removal of the causes of prevalent and fatal diseases, and of consequent destitution and suffering.

The steps which the Commissioners propose to take for obtaining the information required by the order of the House of Lords, are:—

1. To procure from the medical officers of unions returns of the number of cases of contagious or infectious disease, the spread of which within their respective districts has been promoted by the circumstances referred to in the order of the House of Lords, with their observations thereon; for which purpose the Commissioners will issue the necessary circulars to the medical officers.

2. To obtain information from the Boards of Guardians of districts in xiiwhich these diseases appear to have prevailed to a considerable extent, and where the guardians have applied to municipal or other authorities for the removal of circumstances promoting the prevalence of such diseases.

3. In large towns, to request some physician,[1] or general practitioner of eminent reputation, to prepare a report (founded upon data obtained from the various dispensaries, infirmaries, fever hospitals, and other similar public establishments) respecting the circumstances promoting the prevalence of contagious and infectious diseases in such large towns.

The Commissioners will be glad to receive from you the name of any physician or general practitioner of sufficient eminence to obtain the requisite data, and who will be willing to furnish them with such a report in each of the towns in your district named in the margin.

4. If the means already indicated should prove insufficient, to obtain a report from yourself founded on personal examination, on spots where, from the returns or from other information, such examination by yourself or the medical officer of the district may appear necessary.

Some of the chief considerations bearing upon the subject are set forth in the reports referred to in the resolution of the House of Lords, and if within your district there were any Boards of Health appointed during the prevalence of the cholera, it is probable that their reports founded on an examination of the condition of those classes amongst whom the prevalence of that disease was apprehended may furnish you with useful information.

The Commissioners wish further to observe that the state of the dwellings occupied by the labouring classes exercises an important influence upon their health, and the nature and frequency of the diseases to which they are subject, as well as indirectly upon the moral state of themselves and their families.

The Commissioners therefore request you to investigate the state of the dwellings of the labouring classes in your district, both in towns and in the country, with reference to the following observations,—

It will be desirable generally, after informing yourself of the various descriptions of cottage tenements in your district and the nature of the accommodation or comforts which they contain, to observe—

1. What is the common cost of erection, and the average cost of repairing each description of these cottage tenements.

2. What are the rents paid by the labourers for each description of these cottage tenements.

3. What is the general proportion of the rent paid by the labourer to his total expenditure.

You may find within your district instances where the employers of labour (whether agricultural or manufacturing) have erected on their own lands tenements of an improved description for the residence of the labourers employed by them. You are requested to take notice of all such instances which may come before you, and examine them as standards of comparison with other tenements of an inferior kind. You will inquire as to the comparative health and condition of the inmates, and whether the advantage of improved dwellings has been observed to have any salutary influence on the moral habits of the inmates;—whether the increased comforts of his house and home have tended to withdraw the labourer from the beer-shop, and from the habits of improvidence to which it leads;—whether residents in separate and improved tenements are superior in condition, as compared with the labourers who hold merely lodgings, or who reside with other families in the same house.

Where you meet with remarkable instances of improved tenements of this description, you are requested to set them forth in your report, and obtain the loan of the plans or drawings of them, together with any information xiiias to their cost and the probable returns in rent, and whether on the whole (other advantages than the pecuniary return being taken into consideration) they are deemed profitable; or what may be the extent of pecuniary loss upon them, or how far it may be countervailed by other considerations.

Although the facts collected by you may not lead to the adoption of any legislative remedies, the publication of successful examples may be useful in stimulating to the voluntary adoption of them.

The Commissioners wish you however to consider whether any legislative measure in the nature of a Building Act (i. e. an Act prescribing certain rules to be followed in the building of cottages) would tend to introduce generally the improvements which may have been adopted partially by public-spirited persons in your district.

This may be considered:—

1. In the case of tenements intended for the residence of the labouring classes in towns;

2. In the case of cottage tenements in rural districts.

With regard to the former class of tenements, the wages of the labourers in towns being commonly double those earned in the rural districts, they may be well able to afford to procure such an increase of comfort in their houses as may be obtained by means of a Building Act, even at the cost of an additional rent. You are also requested, in your observations on this subject, to bear in mind another question, namely, the expediency of exempting small tenements from the payment of rates, or wherever rents are collected weekly, of collecting the rates from the landlord.

It has been stated that the exemption from poor’s rate tends to deteriorate the tenements of the labouring classes, inasmuch as many of such tenements are, for the purpose of obtaining the exemption, built of such quality and appearance as may bring them within the exempted class. It has been further stated, that the benefit of the exemption goes to the landlord, the rent for cottages built for letting in towns being very high as compared with rents obtained for other house property, and that such increased rents have been demanded expressly on the ground of exemption from rating. The causes affecting the construction of cottages are not expressly mentioned in the reports referred to in the resolution of the House of Lords, which treat chiefly of the external and immediately-removable causes of disease, such as stagnant pools or other out-door nuisances with which the parochial officers had to some extent been heretofore accustomed to interfere. But the defective construction of the cottages themselves, and the imperfect protection they may afford against cold or damp—the want of means for the due regulation of warmth or of conveniences for cleanliness, may often be the causes of the prevalence of disease; and the Commissioners consider not only that these subjects cannot with propriety be overlooked in any report on the sources of disease among the labouring classes, but that the beneficial moral results which may arise from the suggestion of improvements in the habitations of the labouring classes justify the Commissioners in taking this occasion to direct your attention to the heads of inquiry which are noticed in this communication.

Signed, by Order of the Board,
E. Chadwick, Secretary.
Assistant Poor Law Commissioner.

2.—Circular Letter of Instructions to Clerks of the Boards of Guardians in England and Wales.

Poor Law Commission Office, Somerset House,
12th November, 1839.

Sir,—I am directed by the Poor Law Commissioners to inform you that they have, in compliance with a communication from Her Majesty’s Secretary xivof State for the Home Department, directed the enclosed letters to the medical officers of your board, together with the accompanying forms for their answers, and I am to request that you will transmit them accordingly.

The medical officers will transmit to you the returns when completed, and by you they will be forwarded when the information required is obtained from all the medical officers to the office. In case of any defect in the returns which cannot be remedied, you will state the nature and extent of the same at the time of transmission.

Before transmitting the returns, you are to read them at a meeting of the Board of Guardians, acquaint them with the answers, and annex any further information which they may be enabled to communicate in aid of the inquiry.

Signed, by Order of the Board,
Edwin Chadwick, Secretary.
To the Clerk to the Board of Guardians.

3.—Circular Letter of Inquiry to the Medical Officers of the Unions in England and Wales, transmitted to them, with Forms of Return, through the Clerks to the Guardians.

Poor Law Commission Office, Somerset House,
12th November, 1839.

Sir,—With the view of ascertaining the extent of the existence of circumstances promoting the prevalence of contagious and infectious diseases described in the reports referred to in the Order of the House of Lords, set forth in the letter from Lord John Russell, a copy of which is hereto annexed, you are requested to fill from the medical relief Lists the enclosed returns, and transmit them to the clerk of the union, with such observations as occur to you thereon.

You will observe that the object of the Commissioners is to ascertain the existence and extent of the visible and removable agencies promoting the prevalence of such diseases as are commonly found connected with the defects in the situation and structure or internal economy of the residences of the labouring classes.

The attention of the physicians who drew reports on the state of the metropolis was almost exclusively directed to the causes affecting the prevalence of various forms of continued fever, arranged under distinguishing names adopted by nosological writers: but in rural districts the prevalence of ague, and of small-pox, and scarlet fever, may be worthy of notice when the causes promoting their prevalence appear removable.

You will, in your observations on the class of cases returned, note the situation, character and quality of the tenements in which the diseases have occurred;—whether they are situated in a neighbourhood habitually infected with malaria;—whether there are occasional causes of malaria, such as floods, &c.; and in such cases, whether you have any suggestions to make as to the best means of diminishing the evil;—whether they are drained or undrained, whether tight or otherwise;—whether there are good means of securing ventilation with a due regard to warmth;—whether there are accumulations of filth, and if so, whether they are ascribable to the slovenly or indolent habits of the inmates, or to the want of proper receptacles for refuse;—whether the occurrence of disease amidst this part of the population is regular or otherwise, and what are the seasons at which it appears, and its characteristics.

The Commissioners request that you will favour them with any information which you may have gained in the course of your medical experience, as to the condition of the inmates of such residences;—whether there is a need of superior cottage accommodation, or to what extent the improvement of the residence would influence the habits beneficially; as, for example,—whether xvyou have witnessed any beneficial effects on the habits of the inmates by providing cottages with a day-room, scullery, pantry, three bed-rooms, and convenient receptacles for refuse and for fuel;—whether within your district there are other labourers of the like class, who occupy improved tenements in a superior situation, and what is the general health and condition of the inmates as compared with the general health and condition of the inmates less advantageously situated;—whether you have seen any cottages constructed with a view to the most economical management of fuel both in cooking and maintaining a proper temperature in the rooms;—and further, any observations that may occur to you on the subject of the health of the labouring classes in connexion with what may appear to you to be available sanitary regulations.

The accompanying portions of the report, and the appendix referred to in their lordships’ order, are transmitted for your information as to the causes of disease existing in the metropolis, which it is deemed necessary to investigate in other parts of the country.

Signed, by Order of the Board,
Edwin Chadwick, Secretary.
To the Medical Officer of the          District.
Whitehall, August 21, 1839.

Gentlemen,—The Queen having been pleased to comply with the prayer of an humble address presented to Her Majesty, in pursuance of an order of The House of Lords, dated 19th August, 1839, “that Her Majesty will be pleased to cause inquiry to be made as to the extent to which the causes of disease stated in the Appendix A., No. 1, of the Poor Law Commissioners’ Fourth Annual Report, and Appendix C., No. 2, of their Fifth Annual Report, to prevail amongst the labouring classes in the metropolis, prevail also amongst the labouring classes in other parts of England and Wales; and that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause the results of such inquiry to be communicated to the House,”—I have to desire that you will cause inquiry to be made accordingly, and that you will prepare a report upon the results of such inquiry, and transmit the same to me, in order that it may be laid before the House of Lords.

I am, Gentlemen,
Your obedient Servant,
(Signed) J. Russell.
Form of Return transmitted with the above Letter to the Medical Officer.
For the Year ended September 29, 1829.
A Return from Mr. ________ Medical Officer of the ________ District of the ________ Union.
Cases. Occupation of Applicants. Situation and State of Residence. Observations.
No. of. Nosological Names of. (If there should not be sufficient space for the requisite Observations, space for the requisite Observations, they may be continued on the back of the Return, or on a fly-leaf, to be attached to the Return.)
Signature of Medical Officer: ________

4.—Circular Letter to the Provosts of Burghs in Scotland.

Poor Law Commission Office, Somerset House,
London, 1840.

Sir,—The Poor Law Commissioners have received from Her Majesty directions to extend to Scotland the inquiry they have, in compliance with an address from the House of Lords, been directed to make in England as to the causes of disease and destitution arising from the situation and construction of the dwellings of the labouring classes, and from other similar circumstances affecting their sanitary condition.

The Commissioners request your aid in conducting the inquiry in the          of          The Commissioners have obtained valuable information in England from the medical practitioners who have the care of hospitals and dispensaries, where those contagious febrile diseases to which their attention has been specially directed come under the observation and treatment of experienced professional men.

The Commissioners ask of you the favour of putting them in communication with the officers of the medical charities and establishments in the          of         , whether supported by the voluntary subscriptions of the inhabitants or by payments out of the town funds, or both.

The Commissioners desire to ascertain, either from the officers of such institutions or from the medical practitioners of the most extensive practice amongst the poorer classes, or from those who visit them in their habitations, to what extent continued fever, and other contagious febrile diseases, are prevalent amongst the poor;—what is the character of the streets and houses in which these maladies most frequently arise, or spread with the greatest rapidity; the state of the paving,—scavenging, and sewerage of such streets,—their width,—the drainage of the houses,—their size,—their state of repair,—the number of families living under one roof,—the number living in cellars;—and other circumstances relating to the structure and situation of the habitations of the poorer classes, and their habits, by which they may be rendered more susceptible of the influence of contagion.

The Commissioners would also be glad to obtain information whether the main sewers of the town have been constructed in a satisfactory manner, and kept in good repair; and to what body, and with what powers this duty is confided;—whether there are any sanitary regulations of a local character for the enforcement of the paving of streets, and of drainage on the owners of houses erected within a reasonable distance of sewers;—whether any local body has power to interfere in the removal of any, and if so of what, nuisances injurious to health; or to cause lodging-houses, and dwellings liable to be infected with fever, to be cleansed and whitewashed from time to time, and by whom the expense of such interference is sustained.

The Commissioners are further desirous of ascertaining whether the authority possessed by the town council, or other local body intrusted with the paving, scavenging, sewerage, the removal of nuisances and other causes of disease, are sufficient, or might in any respect be increased with advantage to the sanitary condition of the town, and especially of those parts of the town which are inhabited chiefly or exclusively by the working classes, and which are therefore comparatively remote from the observation, and less subject to the interference of the middle classes.

The Commissioners will be glad to obtain from you or from the town council of          any suggestions which you may be desirous to make on the subject; and they trust they may have the benefit of your xviiadvice and assistance in the inquiry with which they are charged in the          of          and its suburbs.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your very obedient servant,
Edwin Chadwick, Secretary.
The Provost of

5.—Circular Letter of Inquiry to Dispensary Surgeons and Medical Practitioners in Scotland.

Poor Law Commission Office, Somerset House,
London, 19th June, 1840.

Sir,—The Poor Law Commissioners have been directed to extend to Scotland the inquiry which in the past year they received Her Majesty’s commands to conduct in England, for the purpose of ascertaining what circumstances in the condition of the poorer classes promote the spread of continued fever and other contagious febrile diseases.

They are desirous that this inquiry should be conducted with care in large towns, where the sources of contagion or the circumstances which promote its rapid diffusion among the population are more rife than in the rural districts; they are anxious to obtain the assistance of the medical practitioners having charge of hospitals and dispensaries in such towns, because such institutions afford the best means of observing under what circumstances febrile contagious diseases are disseminated; of defining the districts of the town in which they spread; of ascertaining the character of the streets and houses in such districts; the comparative attention paid to the paving, sewerage, and drainage of these districts; and whether or not they are subject to malarious influences.

The structure of the dwellings of the labouring classes; the nature and extent of their internal accommodation, and of the means for securing cleanliness, for removing filth, for promoting ventilation, and for providing warmth with due economy, can be most easily ascertained by medical gentlemen who devote their time to the frequently gratuitous services of public institutions; they also are most competent to discriminate between the direct influence of the habits of the poorer classes, and of the external circumstances by which they are surrounded, on their sanitary condition; while on the other hand they will not be liable to fall into the error of supposing that these habits are independent of arrangements which administer to domestic comfort.

The Commissioners trust, therefore, they may rely with confidence on your affording them your valuable assistance in the inquiry which they are directed to pursue. They trust you will permit them to suggest that if the cases recorded in the books of your hospital were grouped according to the districts from which the patients were removed, you would at once be able to define in a map those parts of your town most subject to contagious febrile diseases, and to furnish the Commissioners with the number of cases of each febrile disease occurring in each of these districts, and would possess the means of ascertaining and delineating the features of those districts in all that relates to the sanitary condition of the inhabitants, and to medical police. Besides the general influences alluded to in the former part of this letter, you will probably find it useful to ascertain whether any injurious consequences are clearly attributable to certain classes of manufactories surrounded by the habitations of the poor, to the location of slaughter-houses, tanneries, ancient burial grounds, &c., amidst dense masses of the population.

In the course of this inquiry it may be found necessary to distinguish the extent of disease caused by physical or removable agencies, by malaria created by defective drainage, or the bad construction of the dwellings of xviiithe labouring classes, from disease caused by destitution of the proper means of subsistence arising from poverty. It may be expected of the medical practitioners from whom the Commissioners hope to obtain reports, that they will make the distinction wherever it is found to exist.

The Commissioners will value any suggestions you may have to offer respecting the removal of the injurious agencies which may fall under your observation. You are probably well acquainted with the nature of the powers confided to the municipal authorities or other local bodies respecting the paving, sewerage, and drainage of the town, and especially of those parts of it which are inhabited chiefly or solely by the working classes. The Commissioners request you to observe whether those powers enable the municipal or other local body to complete the sewerage, and to enforce the paving and drainage of the streets partially or wholly at the expense of the proprietors of these houses.

The spread of contagious diseases is greatly facilitated in many towns by the extreme filth of lodging-houses to which mendicants and vagrants resort, and of the habitations of certain of the lowest portion of the poorer class; measures of medical police have been resorted to on the occurrence of epidemic fevers, and at the period of the invasion of cholera, for cleansing and whitewashing these habitations at the expense of the inhabitants. The Commissioners request you to state under what circumstances you conceive such measures might be usefully resorted to, and under what superintendence, and whether the expense should fall on the owners of such habitations or on the inhabitants generally, and whether this interference should be habitual or casual.

Suggestions have been made to the Commissioners that the nature of the thoroughfares, and the structure and internal arrangement of the buildings in districts inhabited by the working classes in large towns would be greatly improved if subject to the regulations of a Building Act enforced by the municipal authorities, or by a local board of health; they invite you to reflect on the provisions of such a law, and to state under what circumstances and to what extent you conceive such interference desirable.

Generally the Commissioners are desirous to receive your impressions respecting the means of improving the sanitary condition of the working classes, especially in those parts of your town in which contagious febrile diseases most frequently prevail.

Copies of the forms and exemplifications of the mode of entering the particulars of the information sought in the returns circulated in England, and the reports on the sanitary condition of the labouring classes in the metropolis, are herewith transmitted for your use. The Commissioners have not asked for returns in any prescribed form from the medical practitioners in the towns of Scotland, because they are uninformed as to the nature of the existing records of facts relating to medical statistics in the towns, and they wish to consult the practitioners’ convenience, and be guided by them as to the best use to be made of the local circumstances for obtaining information.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your very obedient Servant,
Edwin Chadwick, Secretary.
To ________

6.—Form of General Queries addressed to Medical Practitioners and others for Information as to the Condition of the Labouring Classes in Scotland.

1. Have diseases of the various forms of continued fever, and other contagious febrile diseases, been prevalent in any, and what, parts of your xixparish or district, and do such diseases recur at regular intervals, or are they rare and occasioned only?

2. What are the seasons at which such diseases appear amidst any part of the population, and what their characteristics?

3. Did the cholera at the time of its general prevalence prevail to any, and what, extent within the district?

4. What is the external condition, in the following respects, of the residences of the population amidst which such diseases occur?

(a.) As to the contiguity of vegetable or animal substances in a state of decomposition, stagnant pools or undrained marshes, accumulations of refuse, either thrown from houses or otherwise?

(b.) As to the means adopted or the means available for the removal of such substances, or the prevention of the generation of malaria; whether there are sufficient drains or sewers, adequately well supplied with water to dilute, and sufficiently sloping to carry off all such refuse; whether such drains are sufficiently closed to confine noxious exhalations from them; whether there is any regularly appointed service of scavengers or otherwise for the removal of such substances; whether there is such ventilation around the residences of, as to dissipate the noxious vapours apparently irremovable?

5. Describe the internal structure and economy of the residences of the population amidst which contagious febrile diseases arise,—

(a.) State whether they, as well as the surrounding land, are drained or undrained?

(b.) Whether they are properly supplied with water for the purposes of cleanliness of the houses, persons, and clothing?

(c.) Whether there are good means of ventilation with a due regard to warmth?

(d.) Whether there are proper receptacles for filth in connexion with the cottages?

6. As to the internal economy of such residences, describe further,—

(a.) Whether they are unduly crowded, and several families or persons occupy the space which would properly suffice only for a less number?

(b.) Whether there are any inferior lodging-houses crowded by mendicants or vagrants?

(c.) Whether there is gross want of cleanliness in the persons or habitations of certain classes of the poor?

(d.) Whether there is a habit of keeping pigs, &c., in dwelling-houses, or close to doors or windows?

(e.) Whether there is an indisposition to be removed to the hospitals when infected with contagious disease?

7. Of the diseases described in question 1, are any or what proportion ascribable to other causes than those specified in questions 4, 5, and 6? if so, distinguish those other causes so far as you are able, and the extent of diseases resulting from them.

8. What is the common cost of erection and average cost of repairing each description of the tenements or cottages inhabited by the labouring classes?

9. What are the rents paid by the labourers for each description of tenements or cottages?

10. What is the general proportion of the rent paid by the labourer to his total expenditure?

11. What is the common cost of the lodgings to persons of the labouring classes?

12. Are you of opinion that any, and what, legislative measures are desirable or available for remedy of any of the evils existing within your district?

13. Have any, and what, voluntary exertions been made to improve the xxexternal or internal economy of the residences of the labouring classes within your district? and if so, describe their nature and effects.

Name of the parish or district to which the preceding answers refer.
Name of the medical practitioner or other person by whom the answers are given.

Note.—Where the space opposite to any question does not suffice for the full answer which it may be desirable to give, it may be written on the blank space at the back of the sheet, or on a separate sheet, reference being made to the number or letter of the question.

Any general observations may be hereunder annexed.

It is requested that the answer may be transmitted by the post to “The Poor Law Commissioners,” according to the address on the inside of the envelope which may be used for the purpose.





Return of the number of deaths in 1838, in each county, from epidemic, endemic, and other diseases, most powerfully affected by the physical state of a district 2
  Extent of evils which are the subject of inquiry 3
I. General condition of the residences of the labouring classes, where disease is found to be the most prevalent 5
    In Tiverton union, Cornwall 5
    In Truro, Cornwall 6
    In Cerne union, Dorset 8
    In Axbridge union, Somerset 10
    In Chippenham union, Wilts 11
    In Bedford union, Bedford 12
    In Woburn union, Bedford 12
    In Ampthill union, Bedford 12
    In Bishop Stortford union, Hertford 12
    In Witham union, Essex 13
    In Windsor, Berks 13
    In Epping union, Essex 14
    In West Ham union, Essex 14
    In Bromley union, Kent 14
    In Bilston, Leicester 15
    In Stafford (town of), Stafford, 16
    In Macclesfield union, Chester 17
    In Heaton Norris, Stockport union, Chester 17
    In West Derby union, Lancaster 18
    In Wigan union, Lancaster 19
    In Durham (city of), Durham 20
    In Barnard Castle, Durham 20
    In Carlisle, Cumberland 21
    In Gateshead, Durham 21
    Condition of the Border peasantry 22
    In Lochmaben, Scotland 23
    In Glasgow and Edinburgh 23
II. Public arrangements, external to the residences, by which the sanitary condition of the labouring population is affected 25
  Town drainage of streets and houses. 26
  Instances of the effects on the public health of the neglect of town drainage—  
    At Derby 26
    At Stockport 28
  Comparative mortality in two similar towns, one drained, the other undrained—  
    At Beccles and Bungay, Suffolk 28
  State of town cleansing at Leeds 29
    At Tamworth 30
    At Knutton and Chesterton, Stafford, &c. 30
    At Liverpool 30
    At Brighton 31
    At Birmingham 32
xxiv    At Edinburgh 33
    At Tranent and Ayr 33
    At Stirling 34
    At Clitheroe, Lancashire 35
  Street and road cleansing—road pavements. 36
  Defective from want of skill or proper combination of means 36
  Different influence on the public health of paved and unpaved streets, instance of, in Portsmouth 37
  Instance of the effect on the public health of street cleansing in Macclesfield 37
  Instances of the neglect of street cleansing—  
    In Manchester 38
    In Leeds 39
  Instances of the consequences on the public health of the neglect of road cleansing in rural districts in England and in Scotland 42
  Discipline in respect to cleanliness of the army superior to the civic economy of the towns 44
  House cleansing as connected with street cleansing and sewerage.  
  Instances of the sanitary condition of houses in the metropolis where the cesspools do not communicate with the drains 45
  Small value of refuse in London, in consequence of the expense of cartage 46
  Effects on the health of the accumulation of refuse near the residences of the labouring classes: examples in  
    Greenock 46
    Leeds 47
  Cleansing by means of water-closets applicable to the poorer districts as being the most economical 48
  Instance of the removal of the refuse of the city of Edinburgh by sewerage, and of its application to agriculture by irrigation 48
  Objections by the citizens of Edinburgh to irrigation by sewers in the immediate vicinity of the city 49
  Value of the refuse of London, on the scale of value of the refuse of Edinburgh 51
  Modifications of the mode of sewerage of Edinburgh, to make a system of cleansing innoxious and profitable, and extend it to the residences of the poorer classes 52
  Expense of street cleansing in Manchester 53
  Defects of the prevalent mode of removing the refuse of houses by cartage, or otherwise than by sewerage 54
  Instances of defective construction of sewers 55
  Evidence on the action of improved modes of sewerage 55
  Effects of different descriptions of streets upon the public health 59
  Proposed mode of cleansing streets by sweeping the refuse into the sewers 60
  Similar mode proposed of cleansing Paris 61
  Supplies of water. 63
  Necessity of improved supplies of water for house and street cleansing 63
  Instances of the want of water in the houses, and of the effect on the personal and domestic habits of the lower classes of the population in towns 63
  In Manchester, 64; in Truro union, 65; in Audley district of Newcastle-under-Lyme union, 65; in Dunmow union, 65; in Bishops Stortford union, 65; in Lexden and Winstree union, 65; in Wootton, Bedford, 66; in Edinburgh, 66; in Glasgow, 66; in Aberdeen, 67; in Stirling, 67; in Dundee, 67; in Greenock, 67; in Ayr, 67; in Arbroath, 67; in Renfrew, 68; in Dunfermline, 68; in Tain, 68; in Tranent 68
  Inapplicability of the supplies of water to be obtained by fetching from the public wells 69
  The supplies of water in London by machinery and pipes, and in Paris by cartage and hand carriage, compared 70
  Cost of laying on water in labourers’ tenements and the economy of supply in such a mode 71
  Supplies of water by private companies, not applicable to rural districts of small population 72
xxv  Complaints against the modes of supplies of water by private companies 72
  Private companies do not ensure the best practicable supplies to the public 73
  Instance of supplies of water obtained by the public without private companies 74
  Necessity of general provisions of supplies of water 77
  Unwholesome effects of bad water 77
  Sanitary effect of land drainage. 80
  General land drainage, effects of, on the health of the population, instances of in—  
  The Isle of Ely, 80; the Newhaven union, 81; the Ongar union, 81; the Gravesend and Milton union, 81; the Eastry union, 81 and 82; the Dunmow union, 82; the Epping union 82
  Instances of—  
  In Scotland 83
  Instances of the effect of land drainage upon the health of cattle 83
  Instance of the effects of land floods and deficient land drainage in—  
  The Langport union, 85; the Chesterfield union, 87; the Dore union, 87; the Bicester union, 88; the Leighton Buzzard union, 88; the Foleshill union, 89; the Malton union, 89; Lochmaben, Scotland 90
  Foreign illustrations of the effect of drainage upon the health of the population 90
  Interests opposed to the cleansing of Paris 93
  Class similar to the Chiffoniers found in English towns 94
  Their personal habits 95
  Collateral benefit of more effectual cleansing of towns in diminishing degrading employments 96
III. Circumstances chiefly in the internal economy and bad ventilation of places of work; workmen’s lodging-houses, dwellings, and the domestic habits affecting the health of the labouring classes. 98
  Various effects of overcrowding places of work, as shown in the case of one class of workmen 98
  Comparative ease and economy of measures of prevention rather than of relief 104
  Sanitary effects of ventilation on workpeople at Glasgow 107
  Effects of defective ventilation on the health of milliners and dressmakers in the metropolis 107
  Instances of the effects of defective ventilation of sleeping rooms of the working classes 108
  Effects of the defective economy of lodging-houses and places of repose exemplified in the duration of life of one class of workmen 112
  Instances of errors in respect to the sanitary effects of particular occupations 113
  Injurious effects of deficient ventilation in schools 119
  Bad ventilation and overcrowding private houses. 120
  Great apparent increase in the proportionate number of houses according to the last census attributable to a different mode of making the return 120
  Instances of great overcrowding in cottages in—  
  Greenock, 121; Tranent, 121; Sleaford union 122
  The want of separate apartments and overcrowding of private dwellings. 122
  Effects of the overcrowding of private dwellings on the morals of the population, instances of, in—  
  The Ampthill union, 122; the Leighton Buzzard union, 123; the Bicester union, 123; the Romsey union, 123; among the border peasantry, 124; in Manchester, Liverpool, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Hull, 124; in Leeds, 126; in Nottingham, 126; in Clitheroe 126
  Instances of the injurious influences of bad tenements upon the personal condition and moral habits of the inmates 128
  Effects of noxious agencies in preventing frugality and promoting intemperance 129
  In preventing the influence of education 132
  Force of habits of intemperance in the use of spirituous liquors against all habits of decency, or frugality, or morality 133
xxvi  Misconceptions as to casualties occurring among the indigent or profligate 134
  Intemperance the cause of fever 136
  Domestic mismanagement a predisposing cause of disease. 137
  Mismanagement of earnings obstructive to the domestic improvement of the sanitary condition of the labouring classes.  
  Instances of in—  
  Derby, 137; Birmingham, 138; Manchester, 139; Preston union, 140; Ayr, 141; Tranent, 141; Dundee 142
  Attacks of fever most frequent on workmen in full employment and ordinary health 145, 147
  Irrelevancy of controversy on the generation of fever, in respect to practical means of prevention 148
  Concurrence of medical opinions as to the most efficient means of preventing fever 150
IV. Comparative chances of life in different classes of the community. 153
  Instances of the comparative chances of life amongst the gentry, tradesmen, and working men—  
  In Truro, 154; in Derby, 155; in Manchester, 157; in Rutland, 157; in the Bolton union, 158; in Bethnal Green, 159; in Leeds Borough, 159; in Liverpool, 159; in the Whitechapel union, 160; in the Strand union, 160; in the Kensington union, 161; in Wiltshire, 161; in the Kendal union 161
  Tabular views of the ages at which deaths have occurred in different classes of society 162
  Comparative mortality of differently circumstanced districts of the metropolis 164
  Comparative prevalence of fever in different districts of Leith 167
  High mortality not essential to towns 167
  Comparative mortality in three classes of the community at Bath 168
  Corroborative experience from Paris as to the influence of local circumstances on mortality 170
  Improvements in the health of large towns chiefly confined to improved districts 171
  Instance of progressive improvement in the social condition of the population concurrently with its increase in numbers 175
  Prevalence of disease no evidence of the pressure of population on food 177
  Variations of the proportion of deaths and births in different districts of the same town 178
  Proportion of births to the population greatest where there is the greatest mortality 179
  Proof that pestilence or excessive mortality does not diminish population 182
  Numbers merely not the test of strength or prosperity of a community 185
  Deterioration of the strength of the population by disease without diminishing its numbers 185
  Increase of food or production concurrently with the increase of population 188
V. Pecuniary burdens created by the neglect of sanitary measures:— 188
  Cost of remedies for sickness and of mortality which is preventible 188
  Average ages of death of the heads of families of widows and orphans chargeable to the Manchester, Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Strand, Oakham and Uppingham, Alston with Garrigill, and Bath unions 190
  Table of the number of widows and dependent orphans chargeable in eight unions 191
  Table of the chief cause of death producing widowhood and orphanage in eight unions 192
  Detailed instances of the causes of widowhood and orphanage in Alston with Garrigill 193
  Examples of the sanitary effects of superior care in the residences and the places of work of labourers—in the Reeth union, North York, 196; in Gwennap, Illogan, and Camborne, Cornwall, 198; in Great Bradford and Horton, West York 199
xxvii  Comparison of a young population under favourable and a mature population under unfavourable circumstances 200
  Effects of noxious physical agencies on the moral and intellectual condition of the working classes 202
  Jurisprudential measures for the prevention of deaths from accidents 203
  Cost of disease as compared with cost of prevention, instances of in Glasgow and Dundee 206
VI. Evidence of the effects of preventive measures in raising the standard of health and the chances of life:— 211
  Former health of gaols as compared with the present state 211
  Effects of sanitary measures of prevention on the health of prisoners 214
  Comparison of the experience of sickness amongst different classes of people 216
  Amount of sickness experienced by the labouring classes 217
  Defects of Insurance tables 218
  Effects of sanitary measures in the prevention of disease in the army and navy 219
  Cost to tenants and owners of the public measures for drainage, cleansing, and the supplies of water, as compared with the cost of sickness:— 222
  Cost of measures of prevention as compared with the cost of sickness and mortality 222
  Means of payment for improved accommodation 227
  Impolicy of exemptions of tenements from proper charges 229
  Injurious effects of exemptions of labourers’ tenements 230
  Inability of workmen to improve their own condition 231
  Necessity of extrinsic aid for the improvement of the condition of the working classes 232
  Employers’ influence on the health of workpeople, by means of improved habitations:— 233
  Advantages to labourers of holding tenements in connexion with their employments 233
  Instance of a superior moral and sanitary condition enjoyed by workers in a cotton factory 236
  Elevation of a manufacturing population by improvements in the condition of their dwellings 238
  Most advantageous construction of manufactories for the health of the workpeople 240
  The employers’ influence on the health of workpeople:— 245
  By modes of payment which do not lead to temptations to intemperance 245
  By the promotion of personal cleanliness 253
  By the ventilation of the places of work and the prevention of noxious fumes, dust, &c. 256
  By promoting respectability in dress 261
  Employers’ or owners’ influence in the improvement of habitations and sanitary arrangements for the protection of the labouring classes in the rural districts 261
  Instances of, in the Bedford Union, 262; Stafford Union, 263, in Norfolk and Suffolk, 264; at Harlaxton, Lincolnshire, 266; at the Earl of Rosebery’s estate, Scotland, 266; at Closeburn, Dumfries, 266; Turton and Bollington, Lancashire, 267; Birmingham 267
  Instances of the influence of the materials used in building upon the health of the inmates in Cheshire, Lancashire, Buckingham and Berkshire 267
  Instances of efficient improvements in the detail of labourers’ dwellings in Scotland 270
  Improvements proposed for the construction of the dwellings of the lower classes in towns 272
  Effects of public walks and gardens on the health and morals of the lower classes of the population 275
xxviiiVII. Recognised principles of legislation and state of the existing law for the protection of the public health:— 279
  Necessity of legislative interference for the protection of the health of the population 279
  Spread of old evils in unprotected new districts by inefficient legislation 280
  Dangers of increased charges for inefficient sanitary measures shifting without improving the population 282
  Expulsion of labourers from old tenements without providing appropriate new ones, not invariably beneficial 286
  Advantages in the regulation of the sites of dwellings 287
  General state of the law for the protection of the public health:— 288
  Medical police in Germany 288
  Existing laws for the protection of the public health in England 289
  Early state of the law for the protection of the public health 291
  State of the special authorities for reclaiming the execution of the laws for the protection of the public health:— 296
  General desuetude of the laws for the protection of the public health 296
  State of the administration of the laws for the protection of the public health, by court leets and local trusts 299
  State of the local executive authorities for the erection and maintenance of drains and other works for the protection of the public health:— 302
  State of the obstructions to land drainage and works of private profit redounding to the public health 302
  Injuries to private property as well as to the public health, occasioned by defective administration 305
  Continuance of the causes of disease in the face of representations of their effects on the population 307
  Areas of jurisdiction for drainage inconsistent with efficient operations 309
  Prevalent misconceptions as to the objects and state of management of existing sewerage 311
  Objections made to the existing local administration of the sewers’ rate 315
  Securities requisite to obviate opposition to new expenditure for sewerage 316
  Necessity of the subordinate drainage of private tenements being comprehended as part of one system 319
  Disturbing local interests opposed to efficient management of expenditure in new districts 322
  Obstacles arising from defective local arrangements for efficient expenditure in local public works 323
  Inconveniences of legislation on details, and the want of scientific and trustworthy direction 328
  High rates of charges, by fees, for superintendence of imperfect structural arrangements 329
  Extent of waste in expenditure on local public works, and on separate collections 333
  Public facilities for private land drainage afforded by consolidation 337
  Grounds of unpopularity and distrust of new local expenditure 339
  Boards of Health or public officers for the prevention of disease:— 340
  Inefficiency of Boards of Health, as ordinarily constituted 340
  Failure of Boards of Health in Ireland 342
  Importance of the functions of medical officers in connexion with the executive authority 343
  Means and economy of skilled services for the prevention of diseases 348
  Administrative measures for the prevention of disease amongst the labouring classes 349
  Administrative means for promoting the extension of medical science 352
VIII. Common lodging-houses the means of propagating disease and vice:— 356
xxix  State of the common lodging-houses in the Barnet union, 357; in Birmingham, 357; in Brighton, 358; in Manchester, 358; in the Stockport union, 360; in the Macclesfield union, 360; in Durham, 361; in the Teesdale union, 361; in the Tynemouth union, 361; in Newcastle-on-Tyne, 362; in Tranent, Haddingtonshire, 362; in Tain, Ross-shire, 362; in the borough of Warwick, 363; in Chelmsford 364
  Grounds for subjecting common lodging-houses to the responsibilities of public-houses and beer-shops 364
  Practical illustration of the regulations of common lodging-houses 366
IX. Recapitulation of conclusions:— 368
  Recapitulation of the chief conclusions deduced on the information obtained in the course of the inquiry 369
  Conclusions as to the available means of prevention 370
  Grounds for uniformity of legislation 372
1. Evidence of Mr. John Roe, civil engineer, on the practical improvement in sewerage and drainage tried in the Holborn and Finsbury divisions of the metropolis 373
2. Evidence of Mr. John Darke, contractor for cleansing, as to the obstacles to cleansing, and the conversion of the refuse of the metropolis to productive uses 379
3. Evidence of Mr. John Treble, contractor for cleansing, as to the obstacles to cleansing, and the conversion of the refuse of the metropolis to productive uses 380
4. Extract from the report of Fourcroy and others, showing the calculation of the extent of pollution of the Seine from the discharge of the refuse of the streets of Paris 381
5. Communication from Captain Vetch, of the Royal Engineers, on the structural arrangements of new buildings, and protection of the public health 382
6. Evidence of Mr. George Gutch, district surveyor, on shifting and building inferior tenements in the suburbs, to avoid the provisions of the Metropolis building Act 394
7. Estimate by Mr. Howell, of the cost of structural arrangements of sewerage, drainage, water-tank, and means of house cleansing for labourers’ tenements in the metropolis 394
8. Description of specification of Mr. Loudon’s agriculturists’ model cottage 395
9. Statement of the requisites of cottage architecture, by Mr. Loudon 396
10. Specification of the cost of erection, weekly rents, interest on the capital invested, and the numbers of the tenements and cottages occupied by the poor and labourers; taken from returns made by the relieving officers of their respective districts in 24 unions in the counties of Chester, Stafford, Derby, and Lancaster 400
11. Tables of the expense of building cottages and repairs, in England and Scotland 401
12. Examination of the Rev. Thomas Whateley, Cookham, Berks, on cottage allotments and the keeping of pigs by cottagers 403
13. Arrangement of public walks in towns: plan of the arboretum at Derby, laid out by Mr. Loudon 405
14. Boards of Health: report on the labours of the “Conseil de Salubrité,” of Paris, from 1829 to 1839, by M. Trebuchet 409
16. Qualifications of officers of public health: statement by M. Duchâtelet 423
17. Instance by MM. Duchâtelet and D’Arcet, of the erroneous medical inferences as to the insalubrity of particular trades 424
18. On the habitations of the lower orders of Paris 426
19. On the habitations and lodgings of the lower orders in Paris 428
20. Extract from the report of the commission appointed by the Central Board of Public Health, to ascertain the condition of the dwellings of the working classes in Brussels, and to suggest means for their improvement 429
21. Principles of sanitary police in Germany: extracts from Professor Mohl 431
xxx22. A report on the statements of Dr. Mauthner, regarding the sanitary condition of the operatives in the new cotton manufactures, Vienna, given at the monthly meeting on the 2nd of November, 1841. By Herr L. M. Von Pacher 432
23. Typhus fever, the vast amount of, produced amongst the poor of Liverpool, from want of ventilation and cleanliness: extract from Dr. Currie’s medical reports 441
24. Extract from Dr. Ferriar’s “Advice to the Labouring Classes in Manchester,” given in 1800 441
25. Principles of jurisprudence and responsibility for accidents: extract from the First Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the Labour of Children in Factories 442
26. Extract from the report of Mr. John L. Kennedy, barrister-at-law, to the Commissioners for inquiring into the Labour of Young Persons in Mines and Manufactories 445
27. Tables of Sickness in prisons 449
28. Tables of Sickness in the wynds of Edinburgh 452
29. Suggested form of notification to owners or occupiers, for the distribution of the expense of permanent alterations and the avoidance of overcharges on persons enjoying only portions of the benefit 453
30. Extracts from evidence as to the moral and physical evils that may be created by defective arrangements for hiring and paying workpeople 454


Map, exhibiting the track of fever and cholera, and the badly-cleansed portions of the town of Leeds 160
Map, exhibiting the numbers and places of death from epidemic and other diseases affected by locality, in the parish of Bethnal Green, during one year 160
Linear representation of the comparative numbers and progress of deaths from consumption, from epidemics, and other classes of disease, in the metropolis, during the two years ended the 1st of January, 1842 167
Plans and views of habitations for the labouring classes 266
Group of Northumberland cottages, copied from a view given by Dr. Gilly, canon of Durham;—Group of cottages at Harlaxton, erected by Gregory Gregory, Esq.;—Plans and elevations of cottages, erected by the Rev. Benyon de Beauvoir, at Culford, Suffolk;—Plans of labourers’ cottages, erected by the Earl of Leicester, at Holkham; by the Earl of Roseberry in Scotland;—Plan of a new form of labourers’ cottages, erected by Sir Stewart Monteath, at Closeburn;—Plan of labourers’ cottages, erected by Messrs. H. and E. Ashworth, at Turton; by S. Greg, Esq., at Bollington.  
Plan, by Mr. Sydney Smirke, of lodging-houses for workmen in towns 274
Section of the chief forms of sewers used in the metropolis 378
Plan of the arrangement of the future increment of towns for the protection of the sanitary condition and convenience of the population, by Captain Vetch, of the Royal Engineers 384
General plan of house and street sewerage, and of the construction of streets favourable to cleansing and dryness, by Captain Vetch 389
Isometrical view of a model agricultural labourer’s cottage, by Mr. Loudon 396
Isometrical view of a mechanic’s model double cottage, by Mr. Loudon 398
Furniture of cottages: plans of construction of beds and windows 399
Plans and elevations of labourers’ cottages erected by the Messrs. H. and E. Ashworth;—Plans and elevations of houses in Birmingham 402
Plan for the arrangement of public walks in restricted space in towns, as shown in the arrangement of the Arboretum, in Derby, by Mr. Loudon 406


London, May, 1842.

Gentlemen,—Since my special attention was directed to the inquiry as to the chief removable circumstances affecting the health of the poorer classes of the population, I have availed myself of every opportunity to collect information respecting them. In company with Dr. Arnott I visited Edinburgh and Glasgow, and inspected those residences that were pointed out by the local authorities as the chief seats of disease. I also visited Dumfries. An inspection of similar districts in Spitalfields, Manchester, Leeds, and Macclesfield, and inquiries formerly made under the Commission of Poor Law Inquiry, and inspections of the condition of the residences of the poorer classes in parts of Berkshire, Sussex, and Hertfordshire, had supplied me with means of comparison. Abandoning any inquiries as to remedies, strictly so called, or the treatment of diseases after their appearance, I have directed the examinations of witnesses and the reports of medical officers chiefly to collect information of the best means available as preventives of the evils in question. On the documentary evidence of the medical officers, and on the examinations of witnesses, aided by personal inspections, I have the honour to report as follows:—

Partial descriptions of the condition of the labouring classes, in respect to their residences and the habits which influence their health, afford but a faint conception of the evils which are the subject of inquiry. If only particular instances, or some groups of individual cases be adduced, the erroneous impression might be created that they were cases of comparatively infrequent occurrence. But the following tabular return made up from the registration of the causes of death in England and Wales, which is the most complete yet attained, will give a sufficiently correct conception of the extent of the evils in question, when illustrated by the evidence of eye-witnesses, the medical officers whose duty it has been to attend on the spot and alleviate them. The table comprehends the abstract of the returns of the deaths from the chief diseases, which the medical officers consider to be the most powerfully influenced by the physical circumstances under which the population is placed—as the external and internal condition of their dwellings, drainage, and ventilation.

To the Poor Law Commissioners.

Deaths in Counties from Diseases governed by Locality.
COUNTIES. Number of Deaths during the Year ended 31st December, 1838 from Proportion of Deaths from the preceding Causes in every 1000 of the Population, 1841. Proportion of Deaths from all Causes of Mortality in every 1000 of the Population, 1841.
Epidemic, Endemic, and Contagious Diseases.
Diseases of Respiratory Organs
Diseases of Brain Nerves and Senses.
Diseases of Digestive Organs

Total Deaths from the four preceding Classes of Diseases.
Fever: Typhus, Scarlatina. Small-pox. Measles. Hooping Cough. Consumption. Pneumonia. All other Classes.
Bedford 155 75 40 66 457 97 57 304 131 1382 13 22
Berks 204 288 21 86 739 231 162 467 201 2399 15 25
Bucks 256 85 61 27 575 131 61 348 152 1696 11 19
Cambridge 231 136 57 90 686 156 70 318 189 1933 12 21
Chester 592 279 178 87 1742 366 345 1442 421 5452 14 21
Cornwall 443 135 168 491 1270 342 124 631 228 3832 11 18
Cumberland 165 188 11 83 562 75 142 278 169 1673 9 21
Derby 394 77 79 71 905 200 205 777 268 2976 11 18
Devon 615 460 287 312 1649 564 298 1237 471 5893 11 18
Dorset 137 255 80 58 571 146 106 380 159 1892 11 19
Durham 347 316 139 304 1007 362 207 1138 274 4094 13 21
Essex 417 460 83 163 1250 276 234 782 268 3933 11 19
Gloucester 352 457 440 244 1395 578 476 1142 510 5594 13 20
Hereford 84 83 17 36 333 56 57 238 62 966 8 18
Hertford 160 116 45 48 620 107 90 453 155 1794 11 20
Huntingdon 61 18 1 17 216 45 42 140 72 612 10 18
Kent 955 510 169 214 1701 564 526 1650 651 6940 13 21
Lancaster 2866 1628 898 910 8124 2660 1916 7457 3231 29690 18 25
Leicester 273 98 17 70 941 243 154 668 314 2778 13 21
Lincoln 370 138 29 88 874 248 242 1090 358 3437 9 17
Middlesex 4422 3359 487 1749 6220 3097 2334 6643 2492 30803 20 27
Monmouth 328 321 49 91 481 183 78 550 100 2181 16 24
Norfolk 515 126 63 109 1388 325 281 793 395 3995 10 19
Northamptn 348 148 36 36 762 192 124 503 212 2361 12 21
Northumbd 366 149 46 113 715 287 240 709 388 3013 12 21
Nottingham 222 73 18 80 911 225 201 901 287 2918 12 20
Oxford 222 81 51 59 655 108 152 389 180 1897 12 21
Rutland 11 2   13 64 14 8 56 28 196 9 17
Salop 213 154 112 138 995 242 168 550 284 2856 12 21
Somerset 560 710 401 46 1446 426 373 982 473 5417 12 21
Southamptn 454 164 78 148 1222 338 331 881 372 3988 17 19
Stafford 610 249 182 268 1809 539 419 1251 597 5924 12 18
Suffolk 480 325 53 158 1306 315 184 538 275 3634 12 20
Surrey 1348 814 177 565 2196 978 700 2325 763 9866 11 25
Sussex 391 80 159 88 1047 222 181 863 295 3326 11 18
Warwick 454 415 153 164 1495 678 361 978 638 5336 13 20
Westmoreld 41 40 6 41 248 33 44 154 46 653 12 21
Wilts 246 259 263 140 869 268 212 606 241 3104 12 20
Worcester 381 305 122 258 990 353 235 645 446 3735 16 29
York, E. R. 194 92 167 149 725 194 176 1009 251 2957 13 21
York, N. R. 123 28 69 114 550 102 135 553 1861   9 17
York, W. R. 1298 993 799 507 4253 1202 848 4374 1494 15768 14 21
North. 660 575 4 210 1227 102 223 1311 198 4510 13 18
South. 1613 1004 199 398 1834 129 277 1200 380 7034 14 21
Total, 1838 24,577 16,268 6514 9107 59,025 17,999 13,799 49,704 19,306 216,299 14 22
Total, 1839 25,991 9131 10,937 8165 59,559 18,151 12,855 49,215 20,767 214,771 14 21

Extent of evils which are the subject of inquiry

The registration of the causes of death for the year 1838 is selected, as that was the year when the report was made on the sanitary condition of the labouring population in the metropolis, which has served as the foundation of the extended inquiry.

There are no returns, and no adequate data for returns, to show the proportion in which deaths from the several causes above specified occur amongst the population of Scotland, but there is evidence to which reference will subsequently be made tending to prove that the mortality from fever is greater in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee than in the most crowded towns in England.

The registered mortality from all specified diseases in England and Wales was, during the year 1838, 282,940, or 18 per thousand of the population. These deaths are exclusive of the deaths from old age, which amounted to 35,564, and the deaths from violence, which amounted to 12,055. The deaths from causes not specified were 11,970. The total amount of deaths was 342,529 for that year. In the year following the total deaths were 338,979, of which the registered deaths from old age were 35,063, and the deaths from violence 11,980. The proportion of deaths for the whole population was 21 per thousand.

It appears that fever, after its ravages amongst the infant population, falls with the greatest intensity on the adult population in the vigour of life. The periods at which the ravages of the other diseases, consumption, small-pox, and measles take place, are sufficiently well known. The proportions in which the diseases have prevailed in the several counties will be found deserving of peculiar attention.

A conception may be formed of the aggregate effects of the several causes of mortality from the fact, that of the deaths caused during one year in England and Wales by epidemic, endemic, and contagious diseases, including fever, typhus, and scarlatina, amounting to 56,461, the great proportion of which are proved to be preventible, it may be said that the effect is as if the whole county of Westmoreland, now containing 56,469 souls, or the whole county of Huntingdonshire, or any other equivalent district, were entirely depopulated annually, and were only occupied again by the growth of a new and feeble population living under the fears of a similar visitation. The annual slaughter in England and Wales from preventible causes of typhus which attacks persons in the vigour of life, appears to be double the amount of what was suffered by the Allied Armies in the battle of Waterloo. It will be shown that diseases such as those which now prevail on land, did within the experience of persons still living, formerly prevail to a greater extent at sea, and have since been prevented by sanitary regulations; and that when they did so prevail in ships of war, the deaths from them were more than double in amount of the deaths in battle. But the number of persons who die is to be taken also as the indication 4of the much greater number of persons who fall sick, and who, although they escape, are subjected to the suffering and loss occasioned by attacks of disease. Thus it was found on the original inquiry in the metropolis, that the deaths from fever amounted to 1 in 10 of the number attacked. If this proportion held equally throughout the country, then a quarter of a million of persons will have been subjected to loss and suffering from an attack of fever during the year; and in so far as the proportions of attacks to deaths is diminished, so it appears from the reports is the intensity and suffering from the disease generally increased. It appears that the extremes of mortality at the Small-pox Hospital, in London, amongst those attacked, have been 15 per cent. and 42 per cent. But if, according to other statements, the average mortality be taken at 1 in 5, or 20 per cent., the number of persons attacked in England and Wales during the year of the return, must amount to upwards of 16,000 persons killed, and more than 80,000 persons subjected to the sufferings of disease, including, in the case of the labouring classes, the loss of labour and long-continued debility; and in respect to all classes, often permanent disfigurement, and occasionally the loss of sight.

In a subsequent part of this report, evidence will be adduced to show in what proportion these causes of death fall upon the poorer classes as compared with the other classes of society inhabiting the same towns or districts, and in what proportions the deaths fall amongst persons of the same class inhabiting districts differently situated.

The first extracts present the subjects of the inquiry in their general condition under the operation of several causes, yet almost all will be found to point to one particular, namely, atmospheric impurity, occasioned by means within the control of legislation, as the main cause of the ravages of epidemic, endemic, and contagious diseases among the community, and as aggravating most other diseases. The subsequent extracts from the sanitary reports from different places will show that the impurity and its evil consequences are greater or less in different places, according as there is more or less sufficient drainage of houses, streets, roads, and land, combined with more or less sufficient means of cleansing and removing solid refuse and impurities, by available supplies of water for the purpose. Then will follow the description of the effects of overcrowding the places of work and dwellings, including the effects of the defective ventilation of dwelling-houses, and of places of work where there are fumes or dust produced. To these will be added the information collected as to the good or evil moral habits promoted by the nature of the residence. These will form so many successive sections of the report, and will be followed by information in respect to the means available for the prevention of the evils described, and an exposition of the present state of the law for the protection of the public health, and of modifications apparently requisite to secure the desired results.



The following extracts will serve to show, in the language chiefly of eye-witnesses, the varied forms in which disease attendant on removable circumstances appears from one end of the island to the other amidst the population of rural villages, and of the smaller towns, as well as amidst the population of the commercial cities and the most thronged of the manufacturing districts—in which last pestilence is frequently supposed to have its chief and almost exclusive residence.

Commencing with the reports on the sanitary condition of the population in Cornwall and Devon, Mr. Gilbert, when acting as Assistant Commissioner for those counties, reports, that he found the open drains and sewers the most prominent cause of malaria. He gives the following as an instance of the common condition of the dwellings of the labouring classes in Devon, where it will be observed that the registered deaths from the four classes of disease amounted in one year to 5893 cases.

“In Tiverton there is a large district, from which I find numerous applications were made for relief to the Board of Guardians, in consequence of illness from fever. The expense in procuring the necessary attention and care, and the diet and comforts recommended by the medical officer, were in each case very high, and particularly attracted my attention.

“I requested the medical officer to accompany me through the district, and with him, and afterwards by myself, I visited the district, and examined the cottages and families living there. The land is nearly on a level with the water, the ground is marshy, and the sewers all open. Before reaching the district, I was assailed by a most disagreeable smell; and it was clear to the sense that the air was full of most injurious malaria. The inhabitants, easily distinguishable from the inhabitants of the other parts of the town, had all a sickly, miserable appearance. The open drains in some cases ran immediately before the doors of the houses, and some of the houses were surrounded by wide open drains, full of all the animal and vegetable refuse not only of the houses in that part, but of those in other parts of Tiverton. In many of the houses, persons were confined with fever and different diseases, and all I talked to either were ill or had been so: and the whole community presented a melancholy spectacle of disease and misery.

“Attempts have been made on various occasions by the local authorities to correct this state of things by compelling the occupants of the houses to remove nuisances, and to have the drains covered; but they find that in the present state of the law their powers are not sufficient, and the evil continues and is likely so to do, unless the legislature affords some redress in the nature of sanitary powers. Independently of this nuisance, Tiverton would be considered a fine healthy town, situate as it is on the slope of a hill, with a swift river running at its foot.

6“It is not these unfortunate creatures only who choose this centre of disease for their living-place who are affected; but the whole town is more or less deteriorated by its vicinity to this pestilential mass, where the generation of those elements of disease and death is constantly going on.

“Another cause of disease is to be found in the state of the cottages. Many are built on the ground without flooring, or against a damp hill. Some have neither windows nor doors sufficient to keep out the weather, or to let in the rays of the sun, or supply the means of ventilation; and in others the roof is so constructed or so worn as not to be weather tight. The thatch roof frequently is saturated with wet, rotten, and in a state of decay, giving out malaria, as other decaying vegetable matter.”

The report of Dr. Barham, on the sanitary condition of the town of Truro, gives instances of the condition of the town population in that part of the country. He states—

“The perfect immunity from deaths by febrile and acute diseases, enjoyed by Lemon-street during the long period of three years and a half, is a strong testimony to the value of the breadth of its roadway, the openness of its site, and the judicious construction of the houses; for it has to contend with a great deficiency of sewerage. Fairmantle and Daniell-streets are modern, and are occupied by small traders, and by decent artisans and labourers; the former lies rather low, the latter is on a considerable elevation; both are fairly drained, and are healthy. Charles, Calenick, and Kenwyn-streets present some of the worst specimens of defective arrangement, rendered worse still by the recklessness of the very poor, which can be met with in Truro. The amount of pauper sickness is considerable, the deaths not few. The two latter streets are, in the greater part of their length, but little raised above high-water mark. Passing into St. Mary’s parish, the proportion of sickness and even of deaths in Castle-street and Castle-hill is, to their extent and population, as great, perhaps, as that of any part of Truro; yet their situation is elevated and favourable. There is, however, no mystery in the causation. Ill-constructed houses, many of them old, with decomposing refuse close upon their doors and windows, open drains bringing the oozings of pigsties and other filth to stagnate at the foot of a wall, between which and the entrances to a row of small dwellings there is only a very narrow passage; such are a few of the sources of disease which the breeze of the hill cannot always dissipate. Similar causes have produced like effects in the courts adjacent to Pyder-street, to the High Cross, and to St. Clement’s-streets, and in Bodmin-street and Good-wives’-lane, the situations being all more or less confined. The benefits, on the other hand, derived from open rows, and cottages of a better construction are evidenced in Boscawen and Paul’s-row, and St. Clements’-terrace, which are well ventilated, and consequently suffer less from the scanty provision of drains and other conveniences.

“A detailed account of the public sewers is given in the Appendix, and is believed to be nearly, if not quite, complete. Many of these are of recent date, and owe their existence to the alarm excited when the cholera was near at hand. Some of them are made to discharge themselves into the rivers; and such of these as are swept by a stream of water are unobjectionable in themselves. Several others stop short of this desirable 7termination, and, after collecting filth from various localities, deposit a portion in catch-pits here and there, and finally open on the surface, frequently in some street or lane, where a neglected deposit of a mixed animal and vegetable nature is allowed to become a probable source of annoyance or mischief. Much of this incompleteness may be removed (as regards the main lines of sewerage) at no great expense; and it is said to be the intention of the commissioners of improvement to remedy the deficiency, when they are free from the debt with which they are now encumbered. Many of the smaller sewers are, however, much too narrow to be effective, and some of them are no better than covered drains. But the greatest evils in this department are unquestionably those which spring from the ignorance, cupidity, or negligence of landlords. It is useless to have a good sewer carried through the centre of a street, if the houses at the sides, and still more those situated in courts and lanes adjoining, have no communicating drains; and it is worse than useless to furnish these backlets with the mere semblance of drains—gutters forming pits here and there—then as they approach the street, perhaps slightly covered so as to produce obstruction more frequently than protection, a concentrated solution of all sorts of decomposing refuse being allowed to soak through and thoroughly impregnate the walls and ground adjoining. One or more of these mischievous conditions is to be found in connexion with a large proportion of the older houses in Truro, excepting the better class; and in many of the courts and backlets all these evils are in full operation. I have repeatedly noticed in the country that the occurrence of fever has been connected with near proximity to even a small amount of decomposing organic matter; and it is certain that all measures for effecting improvement in the sewerage of streets, the supply of water, and ventilation, may be rendered nearly inoperative for the obviating of the causes of disease, if a little nidus of morbific effluvia be permitted to remain in almost every corner of the confined court; where the poor man opens his narrow habitation in the hope of refreshing it with the breeze of summer, but gets instead a mixture of gases from reeking dunghills, or, what is worse, because more insidious, from a soil which has become impregnated with organic matters imbibed long before; and now, though, perhaps, to all appearance dry and clean, emitting the poisonous vapour in its most pernicious state. Nothing short of the placing in proper hands a peremptory authority for the removal of what is hurtful, and the supply of what is defective, making the exercise of that authority a duty, can remedy the existing evils.

“The houses occupied by the lower orders do not often exceed two stories in height, and it is rare to find families occupying less than two rooms. The more recent additions to the town—I speak of residences of the humbler class—have mainly consisted of rows of moderate cottages, having, the majority of them, gardens in front, and usually containing four rooms, commonly occupied by a single family. Some instances have, however, occurred of the building of a very inferior class of dwellings, which will be hereafter pointed out.

“No interments now take place in the town, the present burying-ground being at the distance of a third of a mile to the north of the church. The slaughter-houses are all, or nearly all, situated in populous parts, and occasionally constitute a decided nuisance. No manufactories exist which can be looked upon as prejudicial from any effluvia to which 8they give rise. The gas-works and smelting-houses are so placed that no mischievous effects can fairly be attributed to them.”

The state of the dwellings of many of the agricultural labourers in Dorset, where the deaths from the four classes of disease bear a similar proportion to those in Devon, is described in the return of Mr. John Fox, the medical officer of the Cerne union, who, remarking upon some cases of disease among the poor whom he had attended, says,—

“These cases (of diarrhœa and common fever) occurred in a house (formerly a poor house) occupied by nearly 50 persons on the ground-floor; the rooms are neither boarded nor paved, and generally damp; some of them are occupied by two families. The up-stairs rooms are small and low, and separated from each other by boards only. Eleven persons slept in one room. The house stands in a valley between two hills, very little above the level of the river, which occasionally overflows its banks, and within a few yards of it. There is generally an accumulation of filth of every description in a gutter running about two feet from its front, and a large cesspool within a few feet behind. The winter stock of potatoes was kept in some of the day-rooms, and generally put away in a wet state. The premises had not been white-limed during three years; in addition to this state of things, the poor were badly fed, badly clothed, and many of them habitually dirty, and consequently typhus, synochus, or diarrhœa, constantly prevailed. No house-rent was paid by the occupants. Many, under more favourable circumstances were clean and tidy, and if their wages were sufficient to enable them to rent a decent cottage, I have no doubt they would soon regain their lost spirit of cleanliness. In this same parish I have often seen the springs bursting through the mud floor of some of the cottages, and little channels cut from the centre under the doorways to carry off the water, whilst the door has been removed from its hinges for the children to put their feet on whilst employed in making buttons. Is it surprising that fever and scrofula in all its forms prevail under such circumstances?

“It is somewhat singular that seven cases of typhus occurred in one village heretofore famed for the health and general cleanliness of its inhabitants and cottages. The first five cases occurred in one family, in a detached house on high and dry ground, and free from accumulations of vegetable or animal matter. The cottage was originally built for a school-room, and consists of one room only, about 18 feet by 10, and 9 high. About one-third part was partitioned off by boards reaching to within three feet of the roof, and in this small space were three beds, in which six persons slept; had there been two bed-rooms attached to this one day-room, these cases of typhus would not have occurred. The fatal case of typhus occurred in a very small village, containing about sixty inhabitants, and from its locality it appears favourable to the production of typhus, synochus, and acute rheumatism. It stands between two hills, with a river running through it, and is occasionally flooded. It has extensive water meadows both above and below, and a farm-yard in the centre, where there is always a large quantity of vegetable matter undergoing decomposition. Most of the cases of synochus occurred under circumstances favourable to its production. Most of the cottages being of the worst description, some mere mud hovels, and situated in low and 9damp places with cesspools or accumulations of filth close to the doors. The mud floors of many are much below the level of the road, and in wet seasons are little better than so much clay. The following shocking case occurred in my practice. In a family consisting of six persons, two had fever; the mud floor of their cottage was at least one foot below the lane; it consisted of one small room only, in the centre of which stood a foot-ladder reaching to the edge of a platform which extended over nearly one-half of the room, and upon which were placed two beds, with space between them for one person only to stand, whilst the outside of each touched the thatch. The head of one of these beds stood within six inches of the edge of the platform, and in this bed one of my unfortunate patients, a boy about 11 years old, was sleeping with his mother, and in a fit of delirium jumped over the head of his bed and fell to the ground below, a height of about seven feet. The injury to the head and spine was so serious that he lived a few hours only after the accident. In a cottage fit for the residence of a human being this could not have occurred. In many of the cottages, also, where synochus prevailed, the beds stood on the ground-floor, which was damp three parts of the year; scarcely one had a fire-place in the bed-room, and one had a single small pane of glass stuck in the mud wall as its only window, with a large heap of wet and dirty potatoes in one corner. Persons living in such cottages are generally very poor, very dirty, and usually in rags, living almost wholly on bread and potatoes, scarcely ever tasting animal food, and consequently highly susceptible of disease and very unable to contend with it. I am quite sure if such persons were placed in good, comfortable, clean cottages, the improvement in themselves and children would soon be visible, and the exceptions would only be found in a few of the poorest and most wretched, who perhaps had been born in a mud hovel, and had lived in one the first 30 years of their lives.

“In my district I do not think there is one cottage to be found consisting of a day-room, three bed-rooms, scullery, pantry, and convenient receptacles for refuse and for fuel in the occupation of a labourer, but there are many consisting of a day-room and two bed-rooms, constructed with a due regard to ventilation and warmth, pantry, and fuel house, with a small garden and pigsty adjoining, and the labourers occupying such cottages, generally speaking, are far superior to others less advantageously situated. Their persons and cottages are always neater and cleaner, they are less disposed to frequent the beer-houses or to engage in poaching, whilst their children are generally sent daily to some school, in many instances chiefly supported by the clergyman of the parish. As a corroboration of my opinion, I need only state that I am frequently employed by the labourers in the good cottages to attend their wives during their confinement, and generally receive my guinea before I leave the house, whilst the labourer less favourably situated invariably applies to his parish for medical relief under such circumstances. I think there cannot be a doubt if the whole of the wretched hovels were converted into good cottages, with a strict attention to warmth, ventilation, and drainage, and a receptacle for filth of every kind placed at a proper distance, it would not only improve the health of the poor by removing a most prolific source of disease, and thereby most sensibly diminish the rates, but I am convinced it would also tend most materially to raise the moral 10character of the poor man, and render him less susceptible to the allurements of the idle and wicked.”

The tenor of much information respecting the condition of many of the labouring classes in Somerset, where the deaths from the four classes of disease were still higher than in the two other counties, and amounted during the one year to 5417, is exhibited in the sanitary report of Mr. James Gane, the medical officer of the Axbridge union, who states that,—

“The situation of this district where the diseases herein mentioned prevail, is a perfect flat called the South Marsh, in the main road between Bristol and Bridgewater. There are numerous dykes or ditches for the purpose of drainage. The cottages of the poor are mostly of a bad description, frequently mud wall, and often situated close to the dykes, where the water for the most part is in a state of stagnation. Oftentimes not more than one room for the whole family; sometimes two; one above the other; with the really poor, the latter is seldom to be met with, (unless it should happen now and then in a parish where a poor-house was built a short time before the formation of the Union). A pigsty where the inmates are capable of keeping a pig is frequently attached to the dwelling, and in the heat of summer produces a stench quite intolerable; the want of space however prevents it being otherwise. The regular poor-house (those mentioned above being detached cottages) in most of the parishes in this district are of a much worse description, several large families existing under the same roof, occupying only one room each family, and having but one entrance door to the dwelling; here filth and poverty go hand-in-hand without any restriction and under no control. The accumulation of filth being attributable to the want of proper receptacles for refuse, and the indolent and filthy disposition of the inhabitants, in no instance have such places been provided. The floors are seldom or never scrubbed; and the parish authorities pay so little attention to these houses, that the walls never get white-limed from one end of the year to the other. The windows are kept air-tight by the stuffing of some old garments, and every article for use is kept in the same room. The necessary is close to the building, where all have access, and producing a most intolerable nuisance. In a locality naturally engendering malaria, the diseases with which the poor are for the most part afflicted are, fevers such as are stated in this report and which sometimes run into a low typhoid state. The neighbourhood in general is considered in as good a state of drainage as it will admit of. The occurrence of disease among the poor population is for the most part at spring and autumn, at those times agues and fevers prevail. Small-pox and scarlet fever are met with at all seasons of the year, but prevail as epidemics, the former in spring and summer, and the latter about autumn or the beginning of winter. I attribute the prevalence of diseases of an epidemic character, which exists so much more among the poor than among the rich, to be, from the want of better accommodation as residence, (their dwelling instead of being built of solid materials are complete shells of mud on a spot of waste land the most swampy in the parish, this is to be met with almost everywhere in rural districts,) to the want of better clothing, being better fed, more attention paid to the 11cleanliness of their dwellings, and less congregated together. The health of persons even where a large family is, and where superior cottage accommodation is afforded to them, is much better generally than others less advantageously situated. The influence over their habits will also be very beneficial, they will be less likely to run to a beer-house with their last penny, the comforts of a home after the toils of the day keeps them by their own fireside; they become better contented, less liable to disease, make better husbands, better fathers, better neighbours, and with each other better friends. There is a subject which I wish particularly to press on the attention of the Commissioners; the presence throughout the country, and to be found in every parish, of low lodging-houses, where persons of the lowest grade of society, beggars, thieves, and such like, take up a temporary abode in passing from one part of the kingdom to another, bringing with them the seeds of infectious diseases and oftentimes the actual disease itself into a neighbourhood previously in a comparative state of health. I have observed, where persons are living in a locality habitually affected with malaria, that when becoming convalescent from any other disease, are often attacked with ague, more particularly among the poorer classes.

“There is a class of persons called the ‘second poor,’ who for the most part are constantly employed throughout the year as farmers’ labourers, and who are in much better circumstances than those to whom I have above alluded; they have much better cottage accommodation, their houses being provided with one, sometimes two day-rooms, two bed-rooms, a pantry, and other conveniences for fuel and for refuse, and whose general health and condition is much better than those less advantageously situated. Therefore detached cottages for the poor, with a moderate sized day-room, two or three bed-rooms, a pantry, receptacles for refuse and for fuel, with casement windows or some such contrivance for ventilation, will be a blessing to them, and very available sanitary regulations. I know of no better method than is to be seen in all cottages for the economical management of fuel, both in cooking and maintaining a proper temperature of the rooms.”

The following extract from the report of Mr. Aaron Little, the medical officer of the Chippenham union, affords a specimen of the frequent condition of rural villages which have apparently the most advantageous sites:—

“The parish of Colerne, which, upon a cursory view, any person (unacquainted with its peculiarities) would pronounce to be the most healthy village in England, is in fact the most unhealthy. From its commanding position (being situated upon a high hill) it has an appearance of health and cheerfulness which delight the eye of the traveller, who commands a view of it from the Great Western road, but this impression is immediately removed on entering at any point of the town. The filth, the dilapidated buildings, the squalid appearance of the majority of the lower orders, have a sickening effect upon the stranger who first visits this place. During three years’ attendance on the poor of this district, I have never known the small-pox, scarlatina, or the typhus fever to be absent. The situation is damp, and the buildings unhealthy, and the inhabitants themselves inclined to be of dirty habits. There is also a great want of drainage.”

12Mr. William Blower, the surgeon of the Bedford union, to whose evidence on the influence of moral causes on the health of the population, we shall again have occasion to refer, states:—

“Throughout the whole of this district, there is a great want of ‘superior cottage accommodation.’ Most of the residences of the labourers are thickly inhabited, and many of them are damp, low, cold, smoky, and comfortless. These circumstances occasion the inmates to be sickly in the winter season, but I have not observed them to generate typhus, the prevailing form of disease being principally catarrhal; such as colds, coughs, inflammations of the eyes, dysentery, rheumatism, &c. However, when any contagious or epidemic malaria occurs, the cases are generally more numerous.”

Mr. Weale reports instances of the condition of large proportions of the agricultural population in the counties of Bedford, Northampton, and Warwick. The medical officer of the Woburn union states, in respect to Toddington, that—

“In this town fever prevailed during the last year, and, from the state of the dwellings of the persons I called on, this could not be wondered at. Very few of the cottages were furnished with privies that could be used, and contiguous to almost every door a dung heap was raised on which every species of filth was accumulated, either for the purpose of being used in the garden allotments of the cottagers, or to be disposed of for manure. Scarcely any cottage was provided with a pantry, and I found the provisions generally kept in the bed-rooms. In several instances I found whole families, comprising adult and infant children with their parents, sleeping in one room.”

The medical officer of the Ampthill union states:—

“Typhus fever has existed for the last three or four months in the parish of Flitwick, and although the number of deaths has not been considerable as compared with the progress of the disease, new cases have occurred as those under treatment became convalescent, and several are still suffering under this malady. The cottages in which it first appeared (and to which it has been almost exclusively confined), are of the most wretched description: a stagnant pond is in the immediate vicinity, and none of the tenements have drains; rubbish is thrown within a few yards of the dwellings, and there is no doubt but in damp foggy weather, and also during the heat of summer, the exhalations arising from those heaps of filth must generate disease, and the obnoxious effluvia tends to spread contagion where it already exists. It appears that most of the cottages alluded to were erected for election purposes, and have since been allowed to decay; the roofs are repaired with turf dug in the neighbourhood, and the walls repaired with prepared clay, without the addition of lime-washing. Contagious disease has not been remarkable within the Union in any other spot than the one alluded to.”

Messrs. Smith and Moore, the medical officers of the Bishop Stortford union, state,—

“We have always found the smallest and most slightly-built houses the seats of the lowest forms of disease; and although, during the last 13year, no epidemic or infectious disease here prevailed, it is but just to state that, generally speaking, the cottages of labourers in this district are small, badly protected from both extremes of weather, badly drained, and low in the ground.”

Mr. J. S. Nott, the medical officer of the Witham union, states,—

“As medical officer of my district, I am glad to have an opportunity of recording my opinion of many of the causes of fever that uniformly prevails in the autumn and spring in this neighbourhood. I must first state that the situation of the town is exceedingly low, with two small rivers passing through it, and numerous open sewers intersecting the town and its environs, the effluvia of which is frequently exceedingly offensive, and at all times prejudicial to the general health, and calculated to create, by its malaria, the various kinds of fevers, (typhus and remittent). Part of the town is subject to floods; added to which, the cottages are small and crowded together. A great number of the inhabitants accumulate filth and manure for the purpose of sale. There are also many open slaughter-houses, where the refuse and filth is allowed to accumulate for weeks together without removal; and innumerable pigs are kept and fattened on the back of the premises of a great number of the inhabitants; and altogether it would be difficult to find any town of its size where so little regard is paid to cleanliness and ventilation; but where we do find the exception, roomy and well-ventilated cottages, (and they are but few,) the cases of fever are more manageable, and recover sooner.”

The state of Windsor affords an example that the highest neighbourhoods in power and wealth do not at present possess securities for the prevention of nuisances dangerous to the public health. Mr. Parker, in his report on the condition of his district, states—

“With regard to the drainage of the towns in the counties of Buckingham, Oxford, and Berks, it may be observed that there is no town in which great improvements might not be effected. In Reading there are commissioners appointed under a local Act to make provision for cleansing the town and removing nuisances; but their duties do not appear to be performed with due regard to the importance of the trust, for the Board of Guardians of the Reading union, by resolutions entered in their minutes, frequently point out nuisances, and remind the commissioners of the filthy condition of many of the courts and back streets. But extensive as the improvements in the state of the drainage of almost every town in these counties might be, there is no town amongst them in which there is so wide a field for improvement as Windsor, which, from the contiguity of the palace, the wealth of the inhabitants, and the situation, might have been expected to be superior in this respect to any other provincial town. Such, however, is not the case; for of all the towns visited by me, Windsor is the worst beyond all comparison. From the gas-works at the end of George-street a double line of open, deep, black, and stagnant ditches extends to Clewer-lane. From these ditches an intolerable stench is perpetually rising, and produces fever of a severe character. I visited a cottage in Clewer-lane in which typhus fever had existed for some time, and learnt from a woman who had recently lost 14a child the complaint was attributable to the state of these ditches. Mr. Bailey, the relieving officer, informs me that cases of typhus fever are frequent in the neighbourhood; and observes that there are now seven or eight persons attacked by typhus in Charles-street and South-place. He considers the neighbourhood of Garden-court in almost the same condition. ‘There is a drain,’ he says, ‘running from the barracks into the Thames across the Long Walk. That drain is almost as offensive as the black ditches extending to Clewer-lane. The openings to the sewers in Windsor are exceedingly offensive in hot weather. The town is not well supplied with water, and the drainage is very defective.’ The ditches of which I have spoken are sometimes emptied by carts; and on the last occasion their contents were purchased for the sum of 15l.. by the occupier of land in the parish of Clewer, whose meadows suffered from the extraordinary strength of the manure, which was used without previous preparation.”

Mr. Harding, medical officer of the Epping union, states,—

“The state of some of the dwellings of the poor is most deplorable as it regards their health, and also in a moral point of view. As it relates to the former, many of their cottages are neither wind nor water tight. It has often fallen to my lot to be called on to attend a labour where the wet has been running down the walls, and light to be distinguished through the roof, and this in the winter season, with no fire-place in the room. As it relates to the latter, in my opinion a great want of accommodation for bed-rooms often occurs, so that you may frequently find the father, mother, and children all sleeping in the same apartment, and in some instances the children having attained the age of 16 or 17 years, and of both sexes; and if a death occurs in the house, let the person die of the most contagious disease, they must either sleep in the same room, or take their repose in the room they live in, which most frequently is a stone or brick floor, which must be detrimental to health.”

Mr. J. D. Browne, medical officer of the West Ham union states that,—

“The cases of typhus (21 cases in the parish of Walthamstow) have occurred periodically in certain localities, arising partly from want of personal cleanliness, and also from being situated near ditches into which putrefactive matter was deposited, such as the privies and pigsties emptying themselves. The medical officer called the attention of the Board of Guardians, vicar, and parochial officers to the subject; and though it was unanimously admitted that the evil was great, and an anxious desire was expressed in vestry to remove the existing evil, yet the case fell to the ground, there being no funds to meet the exigency. The medical officer feels persuaded that a power should be invested in the Board of Guardians or parochial officers to meet such cases.”

Mr. Thomas H. Smith, the medical officer of the Bromley union, states,—

“My attention was first directed to the sources of malaria in this district and neighbourhood when cholera became epidemic. I then partially inspected the dwellings of the poor, and have recently completed the survey. It is almost incredible that so many sources of malaria should exist in a rural district. A total absence of all provision for effectual 15drainage around cottages is the most prominent source of malaria; throughout the whole district there is scarcely an attempt at it. The refuse, vegetable and animal matters, are also thrown by the cottagers in heaps near their dwellings to decompose; are sometimes not removed, except at very long intervals; and are always permitted to remain sufficiently long to accumulate in some quantity. Pigsties are generally near the dwellings, and are always surrounded by decomposing matters. These constitute some of the many sources of malaria, and peculiarly deserve attention as being easily remedied, and yet, as it were, cherished. The effects of malaria are strikingly exemplified in parts of this district. There are localities from which fever is seldom long absent; and I find spots where the spasmodic cholera located itself are also the chosen resorts of continued fever.”

Passing the metropolis and the adjacent districts, I proceed to the evidence as to the condition of the dwellings of the poorest classes in the midland counties.

The report from Mr. Hodgson and the physicians of the town of Birmingham will be considered a valuable public document, as exhibiting the effect of drainage produced by a peculiarly fortunate situation. The houses, of which I requested drawings, are on the whole built upon an improved plan. This town, it will be seen, is distinguished apparently by an immunity from fever, and the general health of the population is high, although the occupations are such as are elsewhere deemed prejudicial to health.

The following extract from Mr. Hodgkins, the medical officer of Bilston, in the Wolverhampton Union, describes the condition of the population of a colliery district:—

“Bilston, like Wolverhampton, has not been visited by fever to any extent since the cholera in 1832. The awful destruction which then occurred swept off many of those subjects who might afterwards have been victims of fever; in fact Bilston was, after the cessation of cholera, nearly free from disease of any kind for several months. Influenza has occasionally visited us and swept off a few. Small-pox a few years ago was prevalent, but not very fatal, although many children from negligence on the part of the parents are not vaccinated. Scarlet fever has appeared sometimes, but only in straggling cases. The occupations of the poorer classes are chiefly colliers, labourers, &c., great members of the latter being Irish. The houses of those applying for parochial medical relief which I have visited have been dirty and crowded, the habits of the working classes here being generally improvident and dirty, many parties forming heaps of filth close to their doors; and here, as in Wolverhampton, I am afraid it would require the interference of the law to effect any permanent good. Some years ago a large culvert was carried down the principal street which has made a great improvement in that part, but much yet remains undrained. I would mention a place in High-street especially, near to a court, crowded with Irish, there is a pool of green stagnant water or mud continually; another place called the Berry, behind the King’s Arms Inn, and a third in a court in Temple-street, where there appears to be a drain which has been choked up, the stench from which is intolerable.”

16Dr. Edward Knight gives the following description of the sanitary condition of the town of Stafford:—

“During the year ending September 29th, 1839, there have been in the fever-wards connected with the Stafford County General Infirmary 76 cases of fever, of which number 10 have died, and the remaining 66 were discharged cured. The far greater part of these cases commenced in the town of Stafford, some being brought to the infirmary in a dying state, which gives a greater rate of mortality. Although the fever-wards are well arranged, and every comfort and attention provided for the patients, there is a general dislike on the part of the poor to be removed to them from their own houses, except in cases of actual necessity.

“Owing to this, and the filthy state of those parts of the town occupied exclusively by the lower classes, as the ‘Broad-eye,’ ‘Back-walls,’ &c., we have generally more or less of infectious diseases during the autumn and winter months in each year, and although such diseases do not extend their ravages to the more respectable inhabitants, the above form but a very small portion of the cases which occur.

“These parts of the town are without drainage, the houses, which are private property, are built without any regard to situation or ventilation, and constructed in a manner to ensure the greatest return at the least possible outlay. The accommodation in them does not extend beyond two rooms; these are small, and, for the most part, the families work in the day-time in the same room in which they sleep, to save fuel.

“There is not any provision made for refuse dirt, which, as the least trouble, is thrown down in front of the houses, and there left to putrefy. The back entrances to the houses in the principal streets are generally into these, the stabling and cow-houses, &c., belonging to them, forming one side of the street, and the manure, refuse vegetable matter, &c., carried into the street, and placed opposite to the poorer houses; so that they are continually subjected to the malaria arising from that, in addition to their own dirt.

“The sedentary occupation of the working classes (shoemaking being the staple trade of the town), their own want of cleanliness and general intemperance, form, also, a fruitful source of disease. One-half of the week is usually spent in the public-houses, and the other half they work night and day to procure the necessary subsistence for their families. There is a great want of improvement in the moral character of the poor; they can obtain sufficient wages to support their families respectably, but they are improvident and never make any provision against illness. A local Act for the improvement of the town empowers the commissioners to remove nuisances; but no notice is ever taken. The situation of Stafford also offers every facility for an efficient drainage; it is nearly surrounded by a large ditch, in which there might be a running stream of water, well calculated to remove all impurities; but it is always choked up, and in a stagnant state. The river ‘Sow’ is also close to the town. There are not any sewers even in the principal streets, the water being carried off by open channels. In the Lunatic Asylum, which closely adjoins the town, and averages 250 patients, great attention is paid to cleanliness, and we never have any infectious diseases.”

In the month of December, 1839, an application was made to 17the Board for advice and aid to meet the emergencies created by an epidemic which had broken out in the parish of Breadsall in the Shardlow union (Derbyshire). Mr. Senior, the Assistant Commissioner for the district, accompanied Dr. Kennedy to the spot where the fever was prevalent, and that report[2] may be submitted to attention, as containing a picture of the habits of a large proportion of the population of that part of the country, and an exemplification in a group of individual cases of the common causes and effects of such calamities on the labouring population.

The report from Dr. Baker, of Derby, and Mr. Senior’s report, comprising the returns from the medical officers of Nottingham, Lincoln, and other rural and town unions within his district, pourtray the sanitary condition of a large proportion of the population included in them.

Proceeding northward, a report from Mr. Bland, the medical officer of the Macclesfield union, gives the following description of the state of the residences occupied by many of the labourers of that town:—

“In a part of the town called the Orchard, Watercoates, there are 34 houses without back doors, or other complete means of ventilation; the houses are chiefly small, damp, and dark; they are rendered worse with respect to dampness perhaps than they would be from the habit of the people closing their windows to keep them warm. To these houses are three privies uncovered; here little pools of water, with all kinds of offal, dead animal and vegetable matter are heaped together, a most foul and putrid mass, disgusting to the sight, and offensive to the smell; the fumes of contagion spreads periodically itself in the neighbourhood, and produces different types of fever and disorder of the stomach and bowels. The people inhabiting these abodes are pale and unhealthy, and in one house in particular are pale, bloated, and rickety.”

Mr. William Rayner, the medical officer of the Heaton Norris district of the Stockport union describes the condition of a part of the population of that place:—

“The localities in which fever mostly prevails in my district, are Shepherd’s Buildings and Back Water Street, both in the township of Heaton Norris. Shepherd’s Buildings consist of two rows of houses with a street seven yards wide between them; each row consists of what are styled back and front houses—that is two houses placed back to back. There are no yards or out-conveniences; the privies are in the centre of each row, about a yard wide; over them there is part of a sleeping-room; there is no ventilation in the bed-rooms; each house contains two rooms, viz., a house place and sleeping room above; each room is about three yards wide and four long. In one of these houses there are nine persons belonging to one family, and the mother on the eve of her confinement. There are 44 houses in the two rows, and 22 cellars, all of the same size. The cellars are let off as separate dwellings; these are dark, damp, and very low, not more than six feet between 18the ceiling and floor. The street between the two rows is seven yards wide, in the centre of which is the common gutter, or more properly sink, into which all sorts of refuse is thrown; it is a foot in depth. Thus there is always a quantity of putrefying matter contaminating the air. At the end of the rows is a pool of water very shallow and stagnant, and a few yards further, a part of the town’s gas works. In many of these dwellings there are four persons in one bed.

“Backwater-street, the other locality of fever, is proverbially the most filthy street in the town, contains a number of lodging-houses and Irish, who mostly live in dark damp cellars, in which the light can scarcely penetrate.

“It is not to be wondered at that such places should be the constant foci of fevers; there is scarcely a house in Shepherd’s-buildings that has not been affected with fever, and in some instances repeatedly: new residents are most liable to be affected, the force of habit, or some other protecting influence seems to render those who have lived there some time less liable to be attacked. The same circumstance has been noticed by others, and M. Louis, who is known throughout Europe, having made this subject one of particular observation, states that it is generally within the first year that new comers take fever, whilst the old inhabitants who are equally exposed to the same exciting causes escape.”

The report of Dr. Baron Howard, on the condition of the population of Manchester, and that of Dr. Duncan, on the condition of the population of Liverpool, will make up a progressive view of the condition of the labouring population in those parts of the country. The Report of one of the medical officers of the West Derby union, with relation to the condition of the labouring population connected with Liverpool, will serve to show that the evils in question are not confined to the labouring population of the town properly so called.

“The locality of the residences of the labouring classes are in respect to the surrounding atmosphere favourably situated, but their internal structure and economy the very reverse of favourable. The cottages are in general built more with a view to the per centage of the landlord than to the accommodation of the poor. The joiner’s work is ill performed; admitting by the doors, windows, and even floors, air in abundance, which, however, in many cases, is not disadvantageous to the inmates. The houses generally consist of three apartments, viz., the day-room, into which the street-door opens, and two bed-rooms, one above the other. There is likewise beneath the day-room a cellar, let off either by the landlord or tenant of the house, to a more improvident class of labourers; which cellar, in almost all cases, is small and damp, and often crowded with inhabitants to excess. These cellars are, in my opinion, the source of many diseases, particularly catarrh, rheumatic affections, and tedious cases of typhus mitior, which, owing to the overcrowded state of the apartment, occasionally pass into typhus gravior. I need scarcely add that the furniture and bedding are in keeping with the miserable inmates. The rooms above the day-room are often let separately by the tenant to lodgers, varying in number from one or two, to six or eight individuals in each, their slovenly habits, indolence, and consequent accumulation of 19filth go far to promote the prevalence of contagious and infectious diseases.

“The houses already alluded to front the street, but there are houses in back courts still more unfavourably placed, which also have their cellars, and their tenants of a description worse, if possible. There is commonly only one receptacle for refuse in a court of eight, ten, or twelve densely crowded houses. In the year 1836–7, I attended a family of 13, twelve of whom had typhus fever, without a bed in the cellar, without straw or timber shavings—frequent substitutes. They lay on the floor, and so crowded, that I could scarcely pass between them. In another house I attended 14 patients; there were only two beds in the house. All the patients, as lodgers, lay on the boards, and during their illness, never had their clothes off. I met with many cases in similar conditions, yet amidst the greatest destitution and want of domestic comfort, I have never heard during the course of twelve years’ practice, a complaint of inconvenient accommodation.”

The following extract from the report of Mr. Pearson, medical officer of the Wigan union, is descriptive of the condition of large classes of tenements in the manufacturing towns of Lancashire:—

“From the few observations which I have been enabled to make respecting the causes of fever during the two months which I have held the situation of house surgeon to the Dispensary, I am inclined to consider the filthy condition of the town as being the most prominent source. Many of the streets are unpaved and almost covered with stagnant water, which lodges in numerous large holes which exist upon their surface, and into which the inhabitants throw all kinds of rejected animal and vegetable matters, which then undergo decay and emit the most poisonous exhalations. These matters are often allowed, from the filthy habits of the inhabitants of these districts, many of whom, especially the poor Irish, are utterly regardless both of personal and domestic cleanliness, to accumulate to an immense extent, and thus become prolific sources of malaria, rendering the atmosphere an active poison. The streets which particularly exhibit this condition are Ashton-street, Hanover-street, Stuart-street, John-street, Lord-street, Duke-street, Princess-street, and the short streets leading from Queen-street, into Faggy-lane and Princess-street. It may be also mentioned, that in many of these streets there are no privies, or, if there are, they are in so filthy a condition as to be absolutely useless; the absence of these must, necessarily, increase the quantity of filth, and thus materially add to the extent of the nuisance.

“In addition to the streets above mentioned, there are, besides, two other localities, which must be considered as peculiarly fitted for the generation of malaria—I mean the waste land in front of Bradshaw Gate, and also that situated between Greenough’s-row and Kerfoot’s-row; the latter is one complete pool of stagnant water, mixed with various descriptions of putrifying animal and vegetable matters. Many of the yards and courts in various parts of the town are so built up as to prevent the movements of the atmosphere, and are in a horribly filthy state, in consequence of dunghills which are situated therein being allowed to 20grow to an immense size, and the water which drains therefrom being permitted to flow over the surface.”

Proceeding northwards, little difference is observable in the condition of the working classes in the ancient towns, where the habitations were crowded for the sake of fortification, and in the manufacturing towns, where the habitations are crowded for the sake of vicinity to the places of work, or from ignorance and inattention, or from the high price of land. We cite the following instances of the condition of the habitations and population in Durham, Barnard Castle, and Carlisle:—

Mr. Nicholas Oliver, Durham, states that—

“The city of Durham, like all ancient cities and towns, is built very irregularly, and surrounded on all sides by the river Wear, which is frequently overflown, and much wooded. These in summer and autumn, by the combined influences of heat, moisture, and decaying vegetable substances, become abundant sources of malaria. The streets are very narrow, and the houses are built so much behind each other that the entrance to a great many of the dwellings is by a passage, lane, or alley, either a steep ascent or descent, where, from a proper want of receptacles and sewers, filth is allowed to accumulate, and there necessarily is a constant emanation of fœtid effluvia. The majority of the houses are very old and in a dilapidated state, several not being weather proof. The great bulk of the working classes inhabit these tenements, and they seldom occupy more than two rooms, many only one, where all that is requisite in conducing to cleanliness and comfort has to be performed.

“The spirit of improvement, which is making such rapid strides in other parts of the country, is here quite dormant. Nothing calls louder for the attention of the constituted authorities than the improvements which might be effected in the habitations of the industrious classes, thereby increasing their health, comfort, and happiness.”

Mr. George Brown, of Barnard Castle, in the Teesdale union, states that—

“The residences of the labouring population within the Teesdale Union, especially in Barnard Castle and the more populous villages, is mostly in large houses let into tenements. At least four-fifths of the weavers in Barnard Castle live in such residences, and about one half of all the other labouring poor in the Union. The tenements which form the residences of the weavers and other labourers in Barnard Castle are principally situate in Thorngage, Bridgegate, and the lower parts of the town, and in confined yards and alleys. The houses are many of them very large. I am told somewhere there are as many as 50 or more individuals under one roof. There is generally, perhaps, one privy to a whole yard (or onset as they term it), embracing five or six houses. From the crowded state of these dwelling-houses, and the filthiness of many of their inmates, disease would undoubtedly arise more commonly than it actually does, but the river Tees flows at the foot of each yard, running alongside of all the houses in Bridgegate. The impurities are thus speedily carried away, and the evils which might otherwise be expected from the effluvia of vegetable and other bodies in a state of 21decomposition are prevented; besides which, the houses in general being large and the poorer class in the upper stories, they are more protected against cold and damp.”

Mr. Brown, in regard to Barnard Castle, further states, that—

“A surgeon here of great intelligence and practice states that in the town of Barnard Castle he has always found the most obstinate cases of typhus and other epidemics, and also rheumatism, to prevail amongst the houses on the west side of the principal street. These houses slope towards the moat of the old castle, which is not sufficiently drained; and the thick and high walls of the ruins of the castle retain the damp, and prevent the accession of the western winds to the moat and many of the houses. In the interior of the castle, now used as a garden, there is a stagnant pond which ought to be drained off: this pond is nearly opposite the yards, which are full of the residences of the poorer classes, and called the Swamp. Disease is often found to exist in these yards, and the surgeon I have referred to attributes to it the dampness of the moat (upon or on the margin of which the houses are built) and to the pond before mentioned. All the houses on the west side of the street have one step, and some more, down from the street. I am also told by the same surgeon that very many of the cases of fever and rheumatism which he attends may be fairly traced to the dampness of houses or want of sufficient drainage of the ground previously to building, and their being built below the level of the adjoining ground, by which the moisture is thrown into them.”

Mr. Rowland, of Carlisle, states—

“Though Carlisle abounds with beautiful walks, it generally has them accompanied with filthy putrid gutters, and there seems no mode of compelling any one to clean them out. The city is surrounded with such nuisances; on the south side at the foot of Botchergate, there is a gutter, perhaps a mile long, which conducts the filth of that quarter through the fields into the river Petteril. The stench in summer is very great. The filth seems to accumulate from want of descent, and probably the whole descent is in the first field next Botchergate. If this gutter was paved and the descent made regular, I have no doubt it would keep itself clean.”

The following is a brief notice of the condition of the residences of the population amidst which the cholera first made its appearance in this country.

Mr. Robert Atkinson, Gateshead, states, that—

“It is impossible to give a proper representation of the wretched state of many of the inhabitants of the indigent class, situated in the confined streets called Pipewellgate and Killgate, which are kept in a most filthy state, and to a stranger would appear inimical to the existence of human beings, where each small, ill ventilated apartment of the house contained a family with lodgers in number from seven to nine, and seldom more than two beds for the whole. The want of convenient offices in the neighbourhood is attended with many very unpleasant circumstances, as it induces the lazy inmates to make use of chamber utensils, which are suffered to remain in the most offensive state for several days, and are then emptied out of the windows. The writer had occasion a short time 22ago to visit a person ill of the cholera; his lodgings were in a room of a miserable house situated in the very filthiest part of Pipewellgate, divided into six apartments, and occupied by different families to the number of 26 persons in all. The room contained three wretched beds with two persons sleeping in each: it measured about 12 feet in length and 7 in breadth, and its greatest height would not admit of a person’s standing erect; it received light from a small window, the sash of which was fixed. Two of the number lay ill of the cholera, and the rest appeared afraid of the admission of pure air, having carefully closed up the broken panes with plugs of old linen.”

The Rev. Dr. Gilly, the vicar of Norham and canon of Durham, in an appeal in behalf of the border peasantry, describes their dwellings as “built of rubble or unhewn stone, loosely cemented; and from age, or from badness of the materials, the walls look as if they would scarcely hold together.” The chinks gape in so many places as admit blasts of wind:—

“The chimneys have lost half their original height, and lean on the roof with fearful gravitation. The rafters are evidently rotten and displaced; and the thatch, yawning to admit the wind and wet in some parts, and in all parts utterly unfit for its original purpose of giving protection from the weather, looks more like the top of a dunghill than of a cottage.

“Such is the exterior; and when the hind comes to take possession, he finds it no better than a shed. The wet, if it happens to rain, is making a puddle on the earth floor. (This earth floor, by the bye, is one of the causes to which Erasmus ascribed the frequent recurrence of epidemic sickness among the cotters of England more than 300 years ago. It is not only cold and wet, but contains the aggregate filth of years, from the time of its first being used. The refuse and dropping of meals, decayed animal and vegetable matter of all kinds, which has been cast upon it from the mouth and stomach, these all mix together and exude from it.) Window-frame there is none. There is neither oven, nor copper, nor grate, nor shelf, nor fixture of any kind; all these things he has to bring with him, besides his ordinary articles of furniture. Imagine the trouble, the inconvenience, and the expense which the poor fellow and his wife have to encounter before they can put this shell of a hut into anything like a habitable form. This year I saw a family of eight—husband, wife, two sons, and four daughters—who were in utter discomfort, and in despair of putting themselves in a decent condition, three or four weeks after they had come into one of these hovels. In vain did they try to stop up the crannies, and to fill up the holes in the floor, and to arrange their furniture in tolerably decent order, and to keep out the weather. Alas! what will they not suffer in the winter! There will be no fireside enjoyment for them. They may huddle together for warmth, and heap coals on the fire; but they will have chilly beds and a damp hearth-stone; and the cold wind will sweep through the roof, and window, and crazy door-place, in spite of all their endeavours to exclude it.

“The general character of the best of the old-fashioned hind’s cottages in this neighbourhood is bad at the best. They have to bring everything with them—partitions, window-frames, fixtures of all kinds, grates, 23and a substitute for ceiling; for they are, as I have already called them, mere sheds. They have no byre for their cows nor sties for their pigs, no pumps or wells, nothing to promote cleanliness or comfort. The average size of these sheds is about 24 by 16. They are dark and unwholesome. The windows do not open; and many of them are not larger than 20 inches by 16; and into this place are crowded 8, 10, or even 12 persons.”

In a selection of plans and drawings of labourers’ dwellings will be found a sketch of a group of hinds’ cottages, such as those described by Dr. Gilly.

The progress of the inquiry into Scotland shows the external and internal condition of the poorer classes of the population to be still more deplorable. The condition of a large portion of the labouring population of the smaller towns, and of the rural districts, is displayed in the Report of Dr. Scott Alison, on the sanitary condition and general economy of the population of Tranent; in the Report of Mr. Stevenson, on the condition of the town of Musselburgh; that of Dr. Sym, on the town of Ayr, to which further reference will subsequently be made.

The description given of the houses of labourers of Lochmaben, by Mr. Wilson, surgeon, is one which characterizes a large class of houses throughout Scotland:—

“In Lochmaben, they are surrounded by low meadow lands subject to frequent inundations, marshes and lakes, with dunghills and pools of dirty water, in which vegetable substances are soaked for the purpose of making manure on all sides of the dwellings. These houses, similar to the dwellings of the generality of the labouring classes, consist of a building 30 feet in length by 16 feet in breadth within the walls; the floor is formed of clay; ceiling, if any, generally formed by spars of wood laid close together, and covered with dry turf; one front door and two front windows. This building is usually occupied by two families, entering by the same door; the partitions are formed by the back of the beds, which will be best understood by describing them as wooden boxes open on one side; the windows rarely are made to open, so that they are ventilated by the door; but having little fuel, the door must be kept shut to maintain warmth, and the chimneys being badly constructed, the dwelling is often full of smoke. Potatoes are often kept under the beds. There are no proper receptacles for filth attached to the houses.”

The most wretched of the stationary population of which I have been able to obtain any account, or that I have ever seen, was that which I saw in company with Dr. Arnott, and others, in the wynds of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

I prefer citing his description of the residences we visited:—

“In the survey which I had the opportunity of making in September, 1840, of the state of Edinburgh and Glasgow, all appeared confirmatory of the view of the subject of fevers submitted to the Poor Law Commissioners by those who prepared the Report in London.

“In Glasgow, which I first visited, it was found that the great mass 24of the fever cases occurred in the low wynds and dirty narrow streets and courts, in which, because lodging was there cheapest, the poorest and most destitute naturally had their abodes. From one such locality, between Argyll-street and the river, 754 of about 5000 cases of fever which occurred in the previous year were carried to the hospitals. In a perambulation on the morning of September 24th, with Mr. Chadwick, Dr. Alison, Dr. Cowan (since deceased, who had laboured so meritoriously to alleviate the misery of the poor in Glasgow), the police magistrate, and others, we examined these wynds, and, to give an idea of the whole vicinity, I may state as follows:—

“We entered a dirty low passage like a house door, which led from the street through the first house to a square court immediately behind, which court, with the exception of a narrow path around it leading to another long passage through a second house, was occupied entirely as a dung receptacle of the most disgusting kind. Beyond this court the second passage led to a second square court, occupied in the same way by its dunghill; and from this court there was yet a third passage leading to a third court, and third dungheap. There were no privies or drains there, and the dungheaps received all filth which the swarm of wretched inhabitants could give; and we learned that a considerable part of the rent of the houses was paid by the produce of the dungheaps. Thus, worse off than wild animals, many of which withdraw to a distance and conceal their ordure, the dwellers in these courts had converted their shame into a kind of money by which their lodging was to be paid. The interiors of these houses and their inmates corresponded with the exteriors. We saw half-dressed wretches crowding together to be warm; and in one bed, although in the middle of the day, several women were imprisoned under a blanket, because as many others who had on their backs all the articles of dress that belonged to the party were then out of doors in the streets. This picture is so shocking that, without ocular proof, one would be disposed to doubt the possibility of the facts; and yet there is perhaps no old town in Europe that does not furnish parallel examples. London, before the great fire of 1666, had few drains and had many such scenes, and the consequence was, a pestilence occurring at intervals of about 12 years, each destroying at an average about a fourth of the inhabitants.

“Who can wonder that pestilential disease should originate and spread in such situations? And, as a contrast, it may be observed here, that when the kelp manufacture lately ceased on the western shores of Scotland, a vast population of the lowest class of people who had been supported chiefly by the wages of kelp-labour remained in extreme want, with cold, hunger, and almost despair pressing them down—yet, as their habitations were scattered and in pure air, cases of fever did not arise among them.

“Edinburgh stands on a site beautifully varied by hill and hollow, and owing to this, unusual facilities are afforded for perfect drainage; but the old part of the town was built long before the importance of drainage was understood in Britain, and in the unchanged parts there is none but by the open channels in the streets, wynds, and closes or courts. To remedy the want of covered drains, there is in many neighbourhoods a very active service of scavengers to remove everything which open drains cannot be allowed to carry; but this does not prevent the air 25from being much more contaminated by the frequent stirring and sweeping of impurities than if the transport were effected under ground; and there are here and there enclosed spaces between houses too small to be used for any good purpose but not neglected for bad, and to which the scavengers have not access.

“Another defect in some parts of Edinburgh is the great size and height of the houses (some of them exceeding ten stories), with common stairs, sometimes as filthy as the streets or wynds to which they open. By this construction the chance of cleanliness is lessened, the labour of carrying up necessaries, and particularly water for the purposes of purifying is increased; and if any malaria or contagion exist in the house, the probability of its passing from dwelling to dwelling on the same stair is much greater than if there were no communication but through the open air. Illustrating how malaria may be produced, I may state that in making a round of observation with Mr. Chadwick, attended by the Police Superintendent, and others, we visited a house at the back of the Canongate, which in former days had been the chief inn of the city, but now, with its internal court-yard of steep ascent, is occupied by families of the labouring classes. In the court-yard a widow of respectable appearance, who answered some of our questions, occupied a room which appeared on the ground-floor, as seen from the court, but was above a stable, now used as a pigsty, opening to the lower level of the external street. A little while before, on the occasion of the dungheap being removed from the pigsty, two children who lived with her, a daughter and a niece, were made ill by the effluvia from below, and both died within a few days.

“The facts here referred to go far to explain why fatal fever has been more common in Edinburgh than from other circumstances would have been anticipated.”

It might admit of dispute, but, on the whole, it appeared to us that both the structural arrangements and the condition of the population in Glasgow was the worst of any we had seen in any part of Great Britain.


I now propose to bring under consideration those parts of the various local reports and communications which most prominently set forth special defects that apparently admit of specific remedies.

The defects which are the most important, and which come most immediately within practical legislative and administrative control, are those chiefly external to the dwellings of the population, and principally arise from the neglect of drainage. The remedies include the means for drainage simply, i. e., the means for the removal of an excess of moisture; and

The means for the removal of the noxious refuse of houses, streets, and roads, by sewerage, by supplies of water, and by the service of scavengers and sweepers.


Town Drainage of Streets and Houses.

The sanitary effects obtainable by an efficient town drainage, independently of all other measures, is exhibited in various parts of the country by such particular instances as the following:—

Dr. Baker, in his report on the sanitary condition of Derby states:—

“At the back of the whole row (on the north side of the street) there runs a series of little gardens, each house possessing one, in width equal to the frontage of the house it belongs to, and in length 56 feet. To every five houses there is a pump; and at the bottom of each garden a double privy, answering for two houses, the cesspool shallow, and open to the air; and to this nuisance many have added a pigsty, and dung or rubbish heap. The inhabitants of this street are poor people, chiefly silk-weavers, and what are here called frame-work-knitters or stockingers.

“There are on this (the north) side of the street 54 houses, and between October, 1837, and the latter part of March, 1838, the families inhabiting six adjoining houses in the middle of the row were grievously afflicted with typhus fever, whilst those who dwelt in the remaining 48 houses were comparatively healthy.

“The following list will give at one view the details of this visitation.

“The houses are numbered from the bottom of the hill towards the top.

Number of the House. Name of the Family. Number of Persons ill with Fever. Remarks.
No. 25 Langton. 3 Children, all of whom recovered.
No. 26 Dearu. 4 Man and wife, the former died.
No. 27 Bailey. 1 Man, who recovered.
No. 28 Nettleship. 4 Three children, and subsequently their mother. The children, after many weeks, recovered, but the poor mother (who was pregnant), being much weakened by the fever, and long attendance upon her children, died soon afterwards in child-bed.
No. 29 Curzon. 5 First a lodger, named Elizabeth Sherwin, (recently confined) and her infant, both died. Then three of Curzon’s children, who recovered.
No. 30 Hatfield. 1 A girl, who recovered.

“In all 16 persons attacked with typhus fever, of whom five died.

“Here then we have a very interesting subject for investigation; namely, how was it that in a row of 54 houses, uniform in situation, size, and construction, tenanted by the same description of persons, the inhabitants of the six centre houses should have been attacked by a malignant fever, from which those who lived in the 24 houses above and 24 below them altogether escaped?

“By a careful inspection of the whole row I obtained the following information and facts:—That before this street was built, the natural moisture of the land, and any sudden rush of water caused by rain, was carried away by a ditch running down the whole length of the hill, where the present gardens terminate. Also, that in the gardens of the 27upper 21 or 22 houses this ditch had been filled up; and sinks and drains, communicating with the main sewer, that passes down the middle of the street, had been placed between each garden and the dwelling-house. At this point too there is a brick wall, carried down to the bottom of the garden, and dividing this property from the adjoining, and it is very probable that this wall assisted in checking the spread of the fever from the six infected houses, at which part of the row we have now arrived.

“The state of the premises belonging to these ill-fated houses was as follows:—The ditch already alluded to as passing at the bottom of the gardens was here not filled up; there were not any sinks and drains, and the cesspools were overflowing into the ditch, which, here and there obstructed, formed a succession of foul and stinking pools, from four to six feet wide; whilst the earth of the gardens was perpetually saturated with the offensive moisture exuding from them.

“The want of drains, or their faulty construction, may render any situation unhealthy; nor must it be supposed that because high lands in the open country seldom require draining, that it is therefore little needed in elevated portions of a town, for in the latter there are always dirt and slops that require carrying away from the houses that produce them. And inasmuch as drains in high situations never get such a thorough washing out by rain and natural moisture as those do which, from being in lower grounds, receive a swollen and accumulated stream, the former require the greater attention to keep them from becoming foul and obstructed: and it is not a little remarkable that three elevated parts of the town of Derby are hardly ever exempt from fever. They are the Burton-road (district No. 2 in the table), Litchurch-street (district No. 3), and Parker’s Flats (district No. 12).

“In the latter end of the year 1837 and beginning of 1838, Litchurch-street afforded a striking instance of a situation which promised exemption from malaria and disease, being heavily visited by typhus fever, caused, as I shall show, by the most wilful inattention to drainage.

“Litchurch-street is situated in the southern suburb of Derby, from which indeed, although forming a part of the Derby union, it is separated by intervening fields and nursery-grounds belonging to the General Infirmary. Its course is nearly east and west, running down the side of a gentle declivity. The houses in Litchurch-street have not been built many years; are rather small, but are double houses, having a front and back room on the ground floor, and over these a front and back bed-room.

“Descending the hill to the remaining 24 houses (below those infected), and which, from their standing upon lower ground, might reasonably be expected to have fared worse, I soon discovered from whence their protection came. The land adjoining the Litchurch-street gardens belongs, as I have already stated, to the General Infirmary, and the governors of that institution had eight years before built a wall in the former course of the ditch, before spoken of, which wall extended from the foot of the hill as far up as the house No. 24; at the same time they had filled up the ditch, carrying its contents by a drain away from the gardens below and into the nearest public sewer: now reference to the list detailing the amount and progress of the fever on this occasion will show that No. 25 was the first house affected. The connexion therefore 28between the facts here furnished and the tragedy of the six houses is too obvious to require further comment.

“I shall conclude this part of my subject by adding, that from motives of both humanity and economy, the Board of Guardians and the governors of the infirmary jointly exerted themselves to get rid of so serious a nuisance, that the latter, at an expense of more than 50l., extended the wall of separation between Litchurch-street and their own lands, but that, in all other respects, the evil remains now (two years since) as it was then; nor was there found any law that would compel its removal, the place complained of being private property.

“My friend Mr. Harwood, surgeon of the Derby union, informs me that in Canal-street (district 5 of table 1) five sisters in one family were successively attacked with typhus fever, caused by the escape of foul air from a drain.

“It appears that a drain, coming from some neighbouring privies, had been carried so near to the house in which they resided as to form part of the boundary wall of the cellar, which had for some time previous become too offensive to be used.

“Four months elapsed before this family became free from disease; no return of which, however, has taken place since the removal of the drain, which now passes at a greater distance.

“Taken altogether, I think that in large towns (and villages also) there is hardly any source of disease more powerful as to its pernicious influence, or more general as to extent, than defective drainage.”

Mr. John Rayner, the medical officer of the Stockport union, states in his report on the condition of that town:—

“There is a street of about 200 yards in length, the houses of which are of excellent construction, with very few exceptions, and without those unhealthy places, viz., cellar dwellings. The upper third of it is unpaved and without sewerage. It is 10 yards wide, and the inhabitants are generally very clean, as respects both their persons and dwellings; and notwithstanding they are, without exception, well fed and clad, fever has gradually prevailed, but only on the north side of the street. The situation is not a confined one, neither do the houses differ either as to convenience or cleanliness on this side of it.

“In the 10 houses at the upper end of this street (three of which are untenanted) there has been 21 cases of continued fever. Every house, with three exceptions, has had several cases, in some of them as many as four in number. In one, five cases have occurred.

“Seeing this fact, I examined the adjoining yard and gardens, and found a stagnant pool of water and an open ditch about two feet wide, into which the refuse water from the houses, and from two pigsties, was allowed to accumulate. It is about 15 or 20 yards in length. Adjoining the gable end of one of the untenanted houses were found heaps of ordure and other refuse matters undergoing the process of decay.

“The west end of this street opens into some gardens, where free ventilation may easily take place, and, I have no doubt, has prevented the spread of infection to the south side of it.”

The following is the comparison of the different mortality in a drained and an undrained district, made by Mr. Crowfoot, surgeon, of Beccles, one of the most eminent of the medical practitioners 29in Suffolk. In a letter to Mr. Twisleton, the Assistant Commissioner, he states—

“You are aware that these two towns of nearly equal population are nearly alike as to natural advantages of situation, &c., except that Bungay, having a larger proportion of rural population inhabiting the district called Bungay Uplands, ought to be more healthy than Beccles, which has nearly its whole population confined to the town. About 30 years since, Beccles began a system of drainage, which it has continued to improve, till at the present time every part of the town is well drained, and I am not aware of a single open drain in the place. Bungay, on the contrary, with equally convenient opportunities for drainage, has neglected its advantages in that respect, has one or two large reservoirs for filth in the town itself, and some of its principal drains are open ones. The result you will see is, that Bungay, with a smaller proportion of town inhabitants, has become of late years less healthy than Beccles. I have carefully taken the number of burials from the parish registers of each town for the last 30 years, and dividing them into decennial periods, I have calculated the proportion which the deaths bore to the mean population, between one census and the other, during each 10 years; the only possible source of fallacy is the want of the census for 1841; but in its absence I have supposed the same rate of increase as took place between that of 1821 and that of 1831 for each place. Sinking fractions, the following has been the proportion of deaths to the population in the two towns:—

Beccles. Bungay.
Between the years 1811 and 1821 1 in 67 1 in 69
Between the years 1821 and 1831 1 in 72 1 in 67
Between the years 1831 and 1841 1 in 71 1 in 59

You will therefore see that the rate of mortality has gradually diminished in Beccles since it has been drained, whilst in Bungay, notwithstanding its larger proportion of rural population, it has considerably increased.

“The Ditchingham Factory may have given a greater increase of population to Bungay than I have allowed for, but, on the other hand, the Roman Catholics and the Independents bury many of their dead in their own ground, which I have not calculated upon. Since writing the above, I have been over to Bungay, to examine more particularly the state of its drainage, which is much worse than I had any idea of. If their population should much increase, their mortality will increase much faster.”

A frightful picture of a considerable proportion of the labouring population of Leeds in respect to sewerage and drainage is afforded by the report of Mr. Baker, who gives the following instance of amendment:—

“In one of the streets of Leeds where stagnant water used frequently to accumulate after rain, and where there was perpetually occurring cases of fever of a malignant character, a deputation of females waited upon me in my capacity of town counsellor to ask if any remedy could be applied to this nuisance, which they declared was not only offensive but deadly. I directed them to communicate with the owner of the property, and to say that if the grievance was not remedied I should take further steps to enforce it. Never hearing again from the deputation, I 30presumed that the remedy had been applied, and had forgotten the circumstance until the house surgeon of the fever hospital in 1840, in noticing the localities from whence fever cases were most frequently brought to the institution, remarked that ‘formerly many cases of malignant fever were brought in from —— street, but for two or three years there had been none or not more than one or two.’”

Mr. John Wright, the relieving officer of the Tamworth union, states, that the following extracts exhibit the condition in which large masses of the population are kept by the neglect of the proper means of town drainage, and of the house cleansing, practicable by means of drains:—

“Some of the houses in the back streets and courts of Tamworth, particularly those comprised in Class No. 1, are in a wretched state with respect to the common conveniences of life, being adjacent to stagnant ditches and pools of water, and having only one privy, common to many houses, and hemmed in with piggeries, &c., most of these houses having no back doors, the consequence of which is, that fevers and other disorders, generated by filth and malaria, are very prevalent, particularly in humid weather.”

Mr. Elias Barlow, the relieving officer of the Wolstanton and Burslem union, states that—

“The townships of Knutton and Chesterton have been visited with fever for several months; and it still continues its raging influence, particularly in Knutton, the reason of which appears to me to be want of drainage, owing to the houses having been built upon low marshy ground; and also want of ventilation, owing to the houses being too small and having no back doors; it first made its appearance in the lowest class of houses, but has since extended to others.”

The condition of the labouring population of Liverpool, in respect to drainage, is thus described in the report of Dr. Duncan:—

“The sewerage of Liverpool was so very imperfect, that about 10 years ago a local Act was procured, appointing commissioners with power to levy a rate on the parish for the construction of sewers. Under this Act, which expires next year, about 100,000l.. have been expended in the formation of sewers along the main streets, but many of these are still unsewered; and with regard to the streets inhabited by the working classes, I believe that the great majority are without sewers, and that where they do exist they are of a very imperfect kind unless where the ground has a natural inclination, therefore the surface water and fluid refuse of every kind stagnate in the street, and add, especially in hot weather, their pestilential influence to that of the more solid filth already mentioned. With regard to the courts, I doubt whether there is a single court in Liverpool which communicates with the street by an underground drain, the only means afforded for carrying off the fluid dirt being a narrow, open, shallow gutter, which sometimes exists, but even this is very generally choked up with stagnant filth.

“There can be no doubt that the emanations from this pestilential surface, in connexion with other causes, are a frequent source of fever among the inhabitants of these undrained localities. I may mention two instances in corroboration of this assertion:—In consequence of finding 31that not less than 63 cases of fever had occurred in one year in Union-court Banastre-street, (containing 12 houses,) I visited the court in order to ascertain, if possible, their origin, and I found the whole court inundated with fluid filth which had oozed through the walls from two adjoining ash-pits or cesspools, and which had no means of escape in consequence of the court being below the level of the street, and having no drain. The court was owned by two different landlords, one of whom had offered to construct a drain provided the other would join him in the expense; but this offer having been refused, the court had remained for two or three years in the state in which I saw it; and I was informed by one of the inhabitants that the fever was constantly occurring there. The house nearest the ash-pit had been untenanted for nearly three years in consequence of the filthy matter oozing up through the floor, and the occupiers of the adjoining houses were unable to take their meals without previously closing the doors and windows. Another court in North-street, consisting of only four small houses I found in a somewhat similar condition, the air being contaminated by the emanations from two filthy ruinous privies, a large open ash-pit and a stratum of semi-fluid abomination covering the whole surface of the court.

“From the absence of drains and sewers, there are of course few cellars entirely free from damp; many of those in low situations are literally inundated after a fall of rain. To remedy the evil, the inhabitants frequently make little holes or wells at the foot of the cellar steps or in the floor itself; and notwithstanding these contrivances, it has been necessary in some cases to take the door off its hinges and lay it on the floor supported by bricks, in order to protect the inhabitants from the wet. Nor is this the full extent of the evil; the fluid matter of the court privies sometimes oozes through into the adjoining cellars, rendering them uninhabitable by any one whose olfactories retain the slightest sensibility. In one cellar in Lace-street I was told that the filthy water thus collected measured not less than two feet in depth; and in another cellar, a well, four feet deep, into which this stinking fluid was allowed to drain, was discovered below the bed where the family slept!”

He also states,—

“There are upwards of 8,000 inhabited cellars in Liverpool, and I estimate their occupants at from 35,000 to 40,000.”

He adds that—

“In a Report lately made by the Surveyors, appointed by the Town Council to examine the condition of the court and cellar residences within the borough, it is stated that of 2,398 courts examined, 1,705 were closed at one end, so as to prevent thorough ventilation. Of 6,571 cellars, whose condition is reported on, 2,988 are stated to be either wet or damp, and nearly one-third of the whole number are from 5 to 6 feet below the level of the street.”

Dr. Jenks, in his report on the condition of the town of Brighton, states,—

“Owing to the imperfect and insufficient drainage of the town, the inhabitants are compelled to have recourse to numerous cesspools as receptacles for superabundant water, and refuse of all kinds; and to save the inconvenience of frequently emptying them, they dig below the hard 32coombe rock till they come to the shingles, where all the liquid filth drains away. The consequence is inevitable; the springs in the lower part of the town must be contaminated.”

But even in Birmingham, which, as will be seen, enjoys almost an immunity from fever in consequence of the fortunate position of the town conferring advantages in respect to drainage, and the good construction of the houses, it appears from the report made by the physicians and surgeons, that the drainage is in many places extremely defective.

“The great sewers of the town open into the Rea, or into the rivulets which discharge their contents into that stream. In some places these rivulets are now covered over and constitute sewers. The present sewers, which are numerous and large, appear to be sufficient to carry off any storms or floods to which the town is liable, and no part of the town is subject to inundations. The principal streets are well drained, but this is far from the case with respect to many of the inferior streets, and to many, or rather most, of the courts, which, especially in the old parts of the town, are dirty and neglected, with water stagnating in them. These require immediate attention, and care ought to be taken that the depth of the main drains is sufficient to drain the cellars of the adjoining premises, which is not the case in some parts of the town. It is also important that a system of proper drainage should be enforced at the commencement of the building of any new streets or houses. The want of some regulations in this respect often causes the accumulation of putrid water in ditches and pools in the immediate vicinity of newly-erected buildings. In some parts of the borough, as at Edgbaston, there are but few public underground sewers, and the water from the houses is discharged into the ditches or gutters by the sides of the roads, where it stagnates. In the courts the drains are often above ground, and not covered in, and discharge their contents into the gutters or kennels in the streets. We do not think that much advantage is derived from having small underground drains in the courts if the gutters are laid upon a proper slope and are kept in proper repair, for the weirs or grates of small underground drains are very apt to be out of order, or to become choked, in which case accumulations of filthy fluids take place above them.”

The inquiry into the sanitary condition of the towns in Scotland shows that similar defects stand equally in need of remedy in that part of the empire. Mr. Burton, in his report on the provisions of the Police Act for the city of Edinburgh, observes:—

“Until very lately the Cowgate, a long street running along the lowest level of a narrow valley, had only surface drains. The various alleys from the High-street and other elevated ground open into this street. In rainy weather they carried with them each its respective stream of filth, and thus the Cowgate bore the aspect of a gigantic sewer receiving its tributary drains. A committee of private gentlemen had the merit of making a spacious sewer 830 yards long in this street at a cost of 2000l. collected by subscription. The utmost extent to which they received assistance from the police, consisted in being vested with the authority of the Act as a protection from the interruption of private parties. During the operation they were nevertheless harassed by claims of damage for 33obstructing the causeway, and their minutes, with a perusal of which I have been favoured, show that they experienced a series of interruptions from the neighbouring occupants, likely to discourage others from following their example.”

In a communication from Mr. William Chambers, he observes—

“Within these few years, the practice of introducing water-closets into houses has become pretty general, wherever it is practicable; but in the greater part of the old town nothing of the kind can be accomplished from the want of drains. There are drains in the leading thoroughfares, but few closes possess these conveniences, and water is also sparingly introduced into these confined situations. You will therefore understand that a want of tributary drains and water is a fundamental cause of the uncleanly condition of the town. Of water of the finest kind there is indeed a plenteous supply, but unfortunately this is a monopoly in the hands of a joint-stock company, and excepting at two or three wells, all the water introduced into the town has to be specially paid for, in the form of a tax upon the rental, by those who use it.”

As in England, the ignorance or neglect upon this matter is not confined to the labouring population of the capital. Dr. Scott Alison, in his report on the condition of Tranent and the adjacent districts, observes that—

“There is nothing like an efficient system of drainage in Tranent and the other villages in the district. There is a piece of drain here and there, but it is very inefficient. There is not even a sufficient water-course in the main streets of Tranent; and it frequently happens, during and after a heavy fall of rain, that the carriage-road is covered with water, and that some of the lower class of houses are inundated. In a few parts of the town the water-course is covered with stones or flags. These occasionally fall in, and openings are made. These openings are generally left unrepaired, and are not filled up. People frequently get hurt by stepping into them when it is dark. I have myself met with an accident; and serious mischief would very frequently occur did people not pay particular attention to avoid them.”

Dr. Sym, in his report on the sanitary condition of the town of Ayr, states that—

“A good covered sewer traverses the principal streets of the new part of Ayr; but the old part of the burgh, and both Newton and Wallacetown have merely shallow open gutters along the sides of the causeway. These gutters receive all the liquid refuse from the closes and alleys which communicate with the street, and which are generally causewayed in such a way that one side is considerably higher than the other, so as to permit water to find its way to the opposite edge. This sort of drainage might suffice for all useful purposes in our dry sandy soil if we had an adequate establishment of scavengers; but the gutters in many of the streets, and in all the closes inhabited by the poor are so much neglected, that they are never free from the stinking residuum of foul water. In Newton and Wallacetown, the drainage is exceedingly imperfect; indeed, in most streets of the latter it may be said scarcely to exist, and as the surface is very flat, almost the whole of the liquid putrescence and filth which are thrown out from the houses is allowed to 34filter through the sand, or evaporate in the sun, leaving a most offensive paste at the sides of the streets, and in the passages through the houses. This is the more to be regretted, that the beautiful state of cleanliness of the new part of Ayr, shows with how little labour it might be obviated with the aid of our absorbent soil and free atmosphere. There are some streets, the main street of Newton in particular, which have such inequalities in the causewayed footpaths, and such want of escape by the gutters, that it is impossible to find one’s way through them in a dark night, without many a plunge into the filth. There is everywhere sufficient slope toward the river to render drainage perfectly effectual, if properly executed.”

Mr. Forrest, the surgeon, in his account of Stirling, states that—

“The drains or sewers, called in Stirling ‘sivers,’ are all open and sloping. On the public streets they are, in general, well constructed, but in the closes their construction is so very bad that scarcely any of them run well. The only supply of water, so far as I know, which they receive, is from the heavens. The inhabitants of Stirling, during many months of the year, do not obtain water sufficient for their domestic wants, and they cannot, therefore, have any to spare for their sewers. There is a regularly appointed service of scavengers, but it is inefficient. A few old men sweep the public streets from time to time, and the sweepings thus collected are removed in a cart, without any apparent attention to time or order. Sometimes the sweepings remain on the streets for many days. To show how matters of medical police are neglected, I shall state a few facts which are known to every person in Stirling. 1st. The filth of the gaol, containing on an average 65 prisoners, is floated down the public streets every second or third day, and emits, during the whole of its progress down Broad-street, Bow, Baker-street, and King-street, the principal streets in the town, the most offensive and disgusting odour. 2nd. The slaughter-house is situated near the top of the town, and the blood from it is allowed to flow down the public streets. 3rd. The lower part of a dwelling-house, not more than three or four yards from the town-house and gaol, is used as a ‘midding,’ and pigsty, the filth being thrown into it by the window and door. 4th. There are no public necessaries; and the common stairs and closes, and even the public streets, are used habitually as such, by certain classes of the community. 5th. Two drains from the castle, convey the whole filth of it into an open field, where it spreads itself over the surface, and pollutes the atmosphere to a very great extent. 6th. A dwelling-house in the Castle-hill, the greater part of which is inhabited, is used by a butcher as a slaughter-house; and some of the butchers kill sheep and lambs in their back shops, situated under dwelling-houses. 7th. The closes where the poor dwell, and where accumulations of filth most abound, are, I may safely say, utterly neglected by the scavengers. In some situations, the ventilation around the residences is good, but in many others, and especially in the closes, it is very bad, and in my opinion, quite irremediable.”

Before quitting this class of instances, it may here be necessary to guard against the conclusion that neglect of drainage is confined to towns, or to numerous and crowded habitations. Similar instances may be presented, even of single and isolated houses, 35and of small groups of rural cottages, in almost every district. Of this last class of cases I give only one instance, supplied by the evidence of Mr. J. Thomson, of Clitheroe:—

“Have you not had amongst your own people an instance of pestilence occasioned by the neglect of removable causes of disease?—In the summer of 1839 some remarkable cases of fever occurred in my immediate neighbourhood amongst the inhabitants in my employment, of a small cluster of houses called Littlemoor. The situation of this little spot has always been considered, and justly, as remarkably healthy and agreeable, the soil around it being dry, and not marshy, as the name would seem to imply. It is situated on gently sloping ground, about a mile from the town of Clitheroe, and freely exposed on all sides to the wind. It contained six houses and 21 inhabitants at the time of the fever. The houses are built in three distinct groups, round an irregular area of from 50 to 60 feet square. A single, inadequate, and half-choked-up drain, originally constructed more than 40 years ago, for the only cottager, then existing on the spot, was the only underground outlet for the filth, and sink, and surplus water of these habitations; the rest was carried off by a deep and open ditch filled with grass and weeds; this ditch spread out, about 100 yards to the north, into a shallow stagnant pool, in summer green and fœtid; from which was conveyed all the water that could flow during that season past and amongst the cottages at Littlemoor. Into the centre of the open area or yard was poured all the filth of the houses in open channels, and thence, by the above-mentioned underground drain, conveyed away. This state of things was bad enough, but was rendered still worse by the erection recently of a pigsty, the litter and filth of which not only obstructed the drain, but occasioned a pool of abomination of the most perilous and disgusting nature. At the time I saw it—the commencement of the fever—it was overflowing into the foundation of the principal habitation, and had infected the whole house with its stench, and was making its way by innumerable black and fœtid streams through a small shrubbery, the area of which it wholly covered, into the deep and open ditch. Believing this to be the source of the pestilence, I had the sty instantly pulled down, the filth removed, and a large drain brought up to the centre of the yard, terminating in small covered troughs to each habitation. This was in the middle of August, and from the hour of the removal of the filth no fresh case of fever occurred. The first case was on the 12th of May, and was followed by another in the same house on the 27th. In June there were three cases; and in July six; in August four; in all, 15; of which nine were the resident inhabitants, in a population of 21; and the remaining six, nurses and attendants on the sick, obtained from the immediate neighbourhood. No fever prevailed at the time in Clitheroe. One case was fatal, and the health of a most valuable member of that small community was so seriously affected by the fever as to cause his death in a short time. A visitor and attendant on the funeral of the person deceased at Littlemoor, and who took the fever, died also. This spot has remained, and I doubt not will continue, healthy ever since.

“The medical gentleman, Mr. Garstang, of Clitheroe, who attended the preceding case, has communicated to me the equally striking and instructive statement I subjoin:—At Chatburn, a village to the north of 36Clitheroe, he was called to attend a patient in fever, in the month of May of the same year 1839. The first object that struck his eye on approaching the house was a long pole, with a bunch at the end, black and filthy from its recent use in forcing a choked-up and inaccessible drain, which passed between and under the gable-ends of two closely contiguous houses, only a few inches apart, one of which contained his patient. From this single case and house Mr. G. ascertained that 11 cases arose, by which means the fever was spread through the country, where it prevailed with great severity, and terminated, in many instances, fatally. There was no fever but what could be traced to this, and no other discoverable source.”

Street and Road Cleansing: Road Pavements.

The local arrangements for the cleansing and drainage of towns, &c., generally present only instances of varieties of grievous defects from incompleteness and from the want of science or combination of means for the attainment of the requisite ends. Thus the local reports abound with instances of expensive main-drains, which from ignorant construction as to the levels, do not perform their office, and do accumulate pestilential refuse; others, which have proper levels, but from the want of proper supplies of water do not act; others, which act only partially or by surface drainage, in consequence of the neglect of communication from the houses to the drains; others, where there are drains communicating from the houses, but where the house-drains do not act, or only act in spreading the surface of the matter from cesspools, and increasing the fœtid exhalations from it in consequence of the want of supplies of water; others again, as in some of the best quarters of the metropolis, where the supplies of water are adequate, and where the drains act in the removal of refuse from the house, but where from want of moderate scientific knowledge or care in their construction, each drain acts like the neck of a large retort, and serves to introduce into the house the subtle gas which spreads disease from the accumulations in the sewers.[3] Other districts there are where their structural arrangements may be completed, and water supplied, and the under drainage in action, and yet pestilential accumulations be found spread before the doors of the population in consequence of the defective construction, and the neglect of the surface-cleansing of the streets and roads. Recently a remonstrance was made to an able and active member of a Commission of Sewers, for taking no steps to extend the drainage in a wretched district of the metropolis. The reply was, a statement, that a drain had been cut through a portion of it, but that it had done no good; and the remonstrant was invited to inspect the district himself, and judge whether, with 37streets that were unpaved and uncleansed, wet and miry, with deep holes full of refuse, it were possible by any under drainage to remove the evil complained of. Other districts there are in which the Road Commissioners or the Paving Board appears to have done their duty; but the benefit is prevented, and the road is kept continually out of repair by the neglect of the service of scavengers.

All these local defects again are referred back to the defective construction of the Acts of Parliament,—which generally either presume that no science, no skill is requisite for the attainment of the objects, or presume both to be universal,—which in some instances actually prohibit the only effectual mode of drainage, namely, that from the houses into the main-drains; and in others, prescribe cleansing by house-drains without supplies of water; or prescribe the construction of roads independently of drains, and direct the execution of only part of the necessary means, leaving other essential parts to the discretion of individuals.

Between a town population similarly situated in general condition, one part inhabiting streets which are unpaved, and another inhabiting streets that are paved, a general difference of health is observed. The town of Portsmouth is built upon a low portion of the marshy island of Portsea. It was formerly subjected to intermittent fever, but since the town was paved, in 1769, it was noticed by Sir Gilbert Blane, that this disorder no longer prevailed; whilst Kilsea and the other parts of the island retained the aguish disposition until 1793, when a drainage was made which subdued its force.

Such strongly marked effects on the health of the population have followed in many places the complete cleansing of the streets, as are stated by Mr. Bland, medical officer of the Macclesfield Union:—

“To show the value of police regulations in removing any improper accumulations of foul, and putrid matter, where a deadly poison is generated, I have a distinct recollection that, when the cholera appeared in Macclesfield, not only was that fatal disease arrested somewhat in its progress by the active vigilance exercised by the gentlemen in seeing that in their several districts all offending deposits were removed, and all pest-houses cleansed, that for several months after the town had undergone this salutary inspection, and the people made alive to the pernicious effects of the dunghill, fever of the worst or contagious form scarcely appeared in the usual localities, although it was at the autumnal season of the year. I likewise noticed in spring-time following, when the filth had begun to accumulate on the surface in certain parts of the town, a severe return of contagious diseases, fever in all its stages, and a very fatal epidemic small-pox.”

Similar cases were frequently noticed in the reports from Scotland; but when the alarm passed away, the habitual neglect of this description of cleanliness returned.

In the consideration of the evidence about to be submitted as 38to the condition of the streets on the external condition of the residences of the labouring classes, it should be borne in mind that the external condition of the dwelling powerfully and immediately affects its internal cleanliness and general economy.

The description of a large proportion of the streets inhabited by the working classes in Manchester by Dr. Baron Howard, and those of Leeds by Mr. Baker, those of Liverpool by Dr. Duncan, might be extended to Glasgow and other places. Dr. Howard states:—

“That the filthy and disgraceful state of many of the streets in these densely populated and neglected parts of the town where the indigent poor chiefly reside cannot fail to exercise a most baneful influence over their health is an inference which experience has fully proved to be well founded; and no fact is better established than that a large proportion of the causes of fever which occur in Manchester originate in these situations. Of the 182 patients admitted into the temporary fever hospital in Balloon-street, 135 at least came from unpaved or otherwise filthy streets, or from confined and dirty courts and alleys. Many of the streets in which cases of fever are common are so deep in mire, or so full of hollows and heaps of refuse that the vehicle used for conveying the patients to the House of Recovery often cannot be driven along them, and the patients are obliged to be carried to it from considerable distances. Whole streets in these quarters are unpaved and without drains or main-sewers, are worn into deep ruts and holes, in which water constantly stagnates, and are so covered with refuse and excrementitious matter as to be almost impassable from depth of mud, and intolerable from stench. In the narrow lanes, confined courts and alleys, leading from these, similar nuisances exist, if possible, to a still greater extent; and as ventilation is here more obstructed, their effects are still more pernicious. In many of these places are to be seen privies in the most disgusting state of filth, open cesspools, obstructed drains, ditches full of stagnant water, dunghills, pigsties, &c., from which the most abominable odours are emitted. But dwellings perhaps are still more insalubrious in those cottages situated at the backs of the houses fronting the street, the only entrance to which is through some nameless narrow passage, converted generally, as if by common consent, into a receptacle for ordure and the most offensive kinds of filth. The doors of these hovels very commonly open upon the uncovered cesspool, which receives the contents of the privy belonging to the front house, and all the refuse cast out from it, as if it had been designedly contrived to render them as loathsome and unhealthy as possible. Surrounded on all sides by high walls, no current of air can gain access to disperse or dilute the noxious effluvia, or disturb the reeking atmosphere of these areas. Where there happens to be less crowding, and any ground remains unbuilt upon, it is generally undrained, contains pools of stagnant water, and is made a depôt for dunghills and all kinds of filth.”

Of 687 streets, inspected by a voluntary association in that town, 248 were reported as being unpaved, 112 ill ventilated, 352 as containing stagnant pools, heaps of refuse, ordure, &c.

39“The state of some of the streets and courts examined was found by tile inspectors abominable beyond description, and exhibited a melancholy picture of the filthy condition and unwholesome atmosphere in which a large portion of our poor are doomed to live.

“As an example I will extract the description given of Little Ireland from the proceedings of the Special Board of Health, which I have been permitted to examine through the kindness of the borough-reeve, John Brooks, Esq.:—

“‘The undersigned having been deputed by the Special Board of Health to inquire into the state of Little Ireland, begs to report that, in some of the streets and courts abutting, the sewers are all in a most wretched state, and quite inadequate to carry off the surface water, not to mention the slops thrown down by the inhabitants in about 200 houses. The privies are in a most disgraceful state, inaccessible from filth, and too few for the accommodation of the number of people, the average number being two to 250 people. The upper rooms are, with few exceptions, very dirty, and the cellars much worse, all damp, and some occasionally overflowed. The cellars consist of two rooms on a floor, each nine or ten feet square, some inhabited by ten persons, others by more; in many the people have no beds, and keep each other warm by close stowage on shavings, straw, &c.; a change of linen or clothes is an exception to the common practice. Many of the back-rooms, where they sleep, have no other means of ventilation than from the front rooms. Some of the cellars on the lower ground were once filled up as uninhabitable, but one is now occupied by a weaver, and he has stopped up the drain with clay to prevent the water flowing from it into his cellar, and mops up the water every morning.’

“The above description represents as faithfully the present state of this place as it did its condition eight years ago. In addition to the circumstances here mentioned, the unhealthiness of this spot is further increased by its low and damp situation, in a deep hollow, bounded on one side by a filthy and stinking brook, which readily overflows after rain; on another, by a very steep embankment; and on another, by a high wall, which separates it from the gas-works, and surrounded moreover by numerous high factories. * * *

“In the open space in the centre, which was formerly uncovered, numerous pigsties are now erected, which add, if possible, to its insalubrity. All the streets on the west side of the square are blocked up at the end by a high wall, so that each forms a cul-de-sac, a mode of construction which precludes the possibility of effectual ventilation. Close to this wall, at the upper end of these streets, are placed filthy and dilapidated privies, with large open cesspools, which are frequently full to overflowing. The present condition of those in Bent and James Leigh-streets are disgusting and offensive beyond description.”

Mr. Baker in his report on the sanitary condition of the residences of the labouring classes in Leeds, thus describes their external condition:—

“The river Aire, which courses about a mile and a half through the town, is liable suddenly to overflow from violent or continued rains, or from the sudden thawing of heavy falls of snow. The lower parts and dwellings, both in its vicinity and in that of the becks, are not 40unfrequently therefore inundated; and as the depth of the cellars is below the means of drainage, the water has to be pumped out by hand-pumps on to the surface of the streets. In those parts of the town, and particularly where the humbler classes reside, during these inundations, and where there are small sewers, the water rises through them into the cellars, creating miasmatic exhalations, and leaving offensive refuse, exceedingly prejudicial to the health as well as to the comfort of the inhabitants. It was stated, on the authority of one of the registrars, that during a season remarkable for an unprecedented continuation of hot weather, that in one of these localities, the deaths were as three to two, while in other parts of the town, at the same period, they were as two to three. The condition of the Timble Bridge beck is doubtless much worse for drainage purposes than formerly, for the bottom has been raised by continual deposits, until the oldest water-wheel upon it has had to be removed as useless and inoperative; and stepping-stones, once the means of passage over it, are at this moment said to be buried under the accumulation of years, as much as one or two feet in depth. It is quite clear, therefore, that that which was once the main receptacle for the drainage of an entire district is, in its present state, no longer capable of fulfilling that purpose; and that though a considerable amount of drainage might still be effected by it, yet, unless emptied of its superfluous matter, it cannot now be made available for the wants of the entire population on its course.

“In an inundation about the period of 1838 or 1839, which happened in the night, this beck overflowed its boundaries so greatly, and regurgitated so powerfully into petty drains communicating with houses 100 yards distant from its line, that many of the inhabitants were floated in their beds, and fever to a large amount occurred from the damp and exhalations which it occasioned. Of the 586 streets of Leeds, 68 only are paved by the town, i. e., by the local authorities; the remainder are either paved by owners, or are partly paved, or are totally unpaved, with the surfaces broken in every direction, and ashes and filth of every description accumulated upon many of them. In the manufacturing towns of England, most of which have enlarged with great rapidity, the additions have been made without regard to either the personal comfort of the inhabitants or the necessities which congregation requires. To build the largest number of cottages on the smallest allowable space seems to have been the original view of the speculators, and the having the houses up and tenanted, the ne plus ultra of their desires. Thus neighbourhoods have arisen in which there is neither water nor out-offices, nor any conveniences for the absolute domestic wants of the occupiers. But more than this, the land has been disposed of in so many small lots, to petty proprietors, who have subsequently built at pleasure, both as to outward form and inward ideas, that the streets present all sorts of incongruities in the architecture; causeways dangerous on account of steps, cellar windows without protection, here and there posts and rails, and everywhere clothes-lines intersecting them, by which repeated accidents have been occasioned. During the collection of the statistical information by the Town Council, many cases of broken legs by these unprotected cellars, and of horsemen dismounted by neglected clothes-lines hanging across the streets, were recorded.

41“It might be imagined that at least the streets over which the town surveyors have a legal right to exercise control would be sewered. But this is not the case; of the 68 streets which they superintend, 19 are not sewered at all, and 10 are only partly so; nay, it is only within the three or four years past that a sewer has been completed through the main street for two of the most populous wards of the town, embracing together a population of 30,540 persons, by which to carry off the surface and drainage water of an elevation of 150 feet, where, indeed, there could be no excuse for want of sufficient fall. I have seen, in the neighbourhood to which I now refer, an attempt made to drain the cottage houses into a small drain passing under the causeway, and which afterwards had to be continued through a small sewer, and through private property, by a circuitous route, in order to reach its natural outlet, and the water from the surveyors’ drain regurgitate into the cutting from the dwellings. It only needs to be pointed out that the sewer which has subsequently been made, and is most effective, is an evidence of the previous practicability of a work so essential to the welfare of the people; but, I may add, that many of the inhabitants of districts a little further distant from the town, where fever is always rife, are yet obliged to use cesspools which are constructed under their very doors, for the want of the continuation of this desirable measure.

“Along the line of these two wards, and down the street which divides them, and where this sewer has been recently made, numbers of streets have been formed and houses erected without pavement, and hence without surface drainage—without sewers—or if under drainage can be called sewers, then with such as, becoming choked in a few months, are even worse than if they were altogether without. The surface of these streets is considerably elevated by accumulated ashes and filth, untouched by any scavenger; they form nuclei of disease exhaled from a thousand sources. Here and there stagnant water, and channels so offensive that they have been declared to be unbearable, lie under the doorways of the uncomplaining poor; and privies so laden with ashes and excrementitious matter as to be unuseable prevail, till the streets themselves become offensive from deposits of this description; in short, there is generally pervading these localities a want of the common conveniences of life.

“The courts and culs-de-sac exist everywhere. The building of houses back to back occasions this in a great measure. It is in fact part of the economy of buildings that are to pay a good per centage. In one cul-de-sac, in the town of Leeds, there are 34 houses, and in ordinary times, there dwell in these houses 340 persons, or ten to every house; but as these houses are many of them receiving houses for itinerant labourers, during the periods of hay-time and harvest and the fairs, at least twice that number are then here congregated. The name of this place is the Boot and Shoe-yard, in Kirkgate, a location from whence the Commissioners removed, in the days of the cholera, 75 cart-loads of manure, which had been untouched for years, and where there now exists a surface of human excrement of very considerable extent, to which these impure and unventilated dwellings are additionally exposed. This property is said to pay the best annual interest of any cottage property in the borough.”

42Mr. Shaw, the medical officer of the Hindley district of the Wigan union, after giving a similar description of the streets of that town, adds:—

“The greater number of cases of fever in Tuce is in a great degree to be accounted for from the extremely filthy state of those places where it has been worst. Some of the cases were much worse than others, several being of the malignant kind of typhus. Most of the cases happened in Broom-street, in Tuce, a very uncleanly place, whole pools of stagnant water, decayed animal and vegetable matter, and many other nuisances of alike description lying in heaps from one end of the street to the other. It is extremely probable a little attention to these matters would save the inhabitants from many of the diseases with which they are now continually affected.”

Dr. Waite, in his report on the condition of the population at Lynn, states:—

“I have seen typhus fever rage in families, where the refuse of a market-gardener was suffered to accumulate in a hole, immediately before three or four houses, whilst families at fifty yards distant from it were perfectly free.”

The report by Mr. Anderson, solicitor, on the sanitary condition of Inverness, exhibits the external features of the condition in which large proportions of the town population in Scotland are still allowed to remain in respect to all these defects:—

“From the very open or porous character of the subsoil, the grounds in and around Inverness are seldom retentive of surface-water; and as there is also a considerable inclination of the plain towards the river, a good drainage could be easily procured from almost every part of the town. With the exception, however, of the principal streets or thoroughfares, in which the best houses and shops are situated, there are but few covered common sewers; and in the suburbs generally, and from all the side alleys and closes, rain-water and other accumulations pass away only by means of surface or open drains. Hence among the dwellings of the poorer classes stagnant pools very frequently occur, and the drainage in these places, naturally bad enough, is often purposely obstructed by the people, for the purpose of adding to their dunghill heaps or middens, which, as manure for their potatoe-grounds, form the chief treasures of the poorer cottagers and labourers. A gas and water company, established some years ago, has afforded a great increase of comfort and cleanliness to the buildings along the main thoroughfares; but to the back closes and suburbs such luxuries have not yet been extended, and hence the want of order, decency, and comfort are painfully observable among them. Water-closets and public privies are both rare, the consequences of which, morally as well as physically, may be easily imagined, and no doubt much infectious disease, if not occasioned, is harboured and perpetuated by the want of them. The disgusting state of all the bye-lanes and roads about Inverness proves what the people must suffer on this account.

“As already stated, the dwellings of the humbler classes are in general only one story high, that is, they consist of a ground-floor divided into two or three small apartments, with two or three garret-rooms in 43the roof above, which is covered externally with turf or straw thatch. Such buildings are often intermixed with houses of a better description, and from being but seldom painted or whitewashed, they have not a cheerful nor cleanly aspect. Most of them are provided with small back courts or gardens, in which a few common vegetables are grown; but their principal value is as stances for pig-houses and dunghills, which in many instances are improperly allowed to rest upon or touch the dwelling-houses; while it is not to be disguised that cases exist where the pig, the horse, and the cow all live under the same roof with their owners, and the manure allowed to accumulate there also. It is very common for a labourer’s family to have only a single apartment, or a room and a closet, while one room is the usual accommodation rented by single persons, and that frequently without a particle of ground attached.

“Amidst such a combination of unwholesome circumstances, it is rather wonderful that malignant fever does not very greatly prevail in this town. It is scarcely ever entirely free of it, and occasionally it breaks out in some of its most contagious and dangerous forms, such as measles, scarlet and typhus fever, and sometimes even small-pox, spreading upwards among all classes of the community. The writer is strongly inclined to believe that the comparative healthiness of Inverness, notwithstanding its low and undrained position, is owing chiefly to the salubrity of its climate, as influenced by its situation, and the natural porousness of the soil.”

The Provost of Inverness, at the time the report was made, gives the following description of the town:—

“Inverness is a nice town, situated in a most beautiful country, and with every facility for cleanliness and comfort. The people are, generally speaking, a nice people, but their sufferance of nastiness is past endurance. Contagious fever is seldom or ever absent; but for many years it has seldom been rife in its pestiferous influence. The people owe this more to the kindness of Almighty God than to any means taken or observed for its prevention. There are very few houses in town which can boast of either water-closet or privy, and only two or three public privies in the better part of the place exist for the great bulk of the inhabitants. Hence there is not a street, lane, or approach to it that is not disgustingly defiled at all times, so much so as to render the whole place an absolute nuisance. The midden is the chief object of the humble, and though enough of water for purposes of cleanliness may be had by little trouble, still as the ablutions are seldom, MUCH filth in-doors and out of doors must be their portion. When cholera prevailed in Inverness, it was more fatal than in almost any other town of its population in Britain.”

Such is the absence of civic economy in some of our towns that their condition in respect to cleanliness is almost as bad as that of an encamped horde, or an undisciplined soldiery. Mr. Baker applies to Leeds the observations made by Sir John Pringle in his Treatise on the Diseases of the Army, but they are equally applicable to the districts occupied by the labouring classes wherever this inquiry has been carried:—

44“‘The chief cause of dysentery appears to be the foul straw and the privies; for as soon as we had left that ground on which we had been long encamped the sickness visibly abated.’ And again he says, ‘The greatest source of dysenteric affections appears to be the privies.’ And again, speaking of bad air as producing epidemics, he systematizes the mediate agent thus; ‘1st, Marsh effluvia; 2ndly, Encampment near trees; 3rdly, The privies and foul straw of a camp; and 4thly, A pent, corrupt, and vitiated atmosphere.’”

The discipline of the army has advanced beyond the civic economy of the towns. In the standing orders given and enforced by the late General Crauford there are the following from Article 2, on the interior regimental arrangements on arriving in camp or quarters:—

“It must be explained to the men, as a standing order, that when no regular necessaries are made, nor any particular spot pointed out for easing themselves, they are to go to the rear, at least 200 yards, beyond the sentries of the rear guard; all men disobeying this order must be punished.

“The captain of the day and the quarter-master under the commanding officers, are particularly responsible for the cleanliness of the camp of each regiment; and the field officer of the inlying piquet, who is charged with the superintendence of the police, and cleanliness of the camp or quarters of the brigade, will give such orders upon the subject as may be necessary to the captain of the day.”

The towns whose population never change their encampment, have no such care, and whilst the houses, streets, courts, lanes, and streams, are polluted and rendered pestilential, the civic officers have generally contented themselves with the most barbarous expedients, or sit still amidst the pollution, with the resignation of Turkish fatalists, under the supposed destiny of the prevalent ignorance, sloth, and filth.

Whilst such neglects are visited by the scourge of a regularly recurring pestilence and ravages of death more severe than a war, it may be confidently stated that the exercise of attention, care, and industry, directed by science in their removal, will not only be attended by exemptions from the pains of the visitation, but with exemptions from pecuniary burdens, and with promise even of the profits of increased production to the community.

This will appear from an examination of the present mode of removing the refuse from towns, and contrasting it with improved methods; and first with relation to the refuse of the houses:—

It is proved that the present mode of retaining refuse in the house in cesspools and privies is injurious to the health and often extremely dangerous. The process of emptying them by hand labour, and removing the contents by cartage, is very offensive, and often the occasion of serious accidents. But the expense of this mode operates, as the reports from the large towns show, as 45a complete barrier to all cleanliness in this respect in the dwellings or streets occupied by the labouring classes. The usual cost of cleansing cesspools of a tenement in London is about 1l. each time. With a population generally in debt at the end of the week, and whose rents are collected weekly, such an outlay may be considered as practically impossible, and the inferior landlords delay incurring the expense until the nuisance becomes unbearable. In London the expense and annoyance of the cleansing of such places is avoided for years, until they are in the condition described by Mr. Howell, one of the council of the Society of Civil Engineers, who has acted extensively as a surveyor in the metropolis:—

“I would,” he states, “instance a recent case in my own parish, where I was called to survey two houses about to undergo extensive repairs. It was necessary that my survey should extend from the garrets to the cellars: upon visiting the latter, I found the whole area of the cellars of both houses were full of night-soil, to the depth of three feet, which had been permitted for years to accumulate from the overflow of the cesspools; upon being moved, the stench was intolerable, and no doubt the neighbourhood must have been more or less infected by it. I should mention, that these houses are letting at from 30l. to 40l. a-year each, and are situated in a considerable public thoroughfare.

“I would mention another case, amongst many more in St. Giles’s parish: I was requested to survey the dilapidations to several houses in the immediate neighbourhood of High-street, upon passing through the passage of the first house, I found the yard covered with night-soil, from the overflowing of the privy, to the depth of nearly six inches, and bricks were placed to enable the inmates to get across dry shod; in addition to this, there was an accumulation of filth piled up against the walls, of the most objectionable nature; the interior of the house partook something of the same character, and discovering, upon examination, that the other houses were nearly similar; I found a detailed survey impracticable, and was obliged to content myself with making general observations. My duties, as one of the surveyors to a fire-office, call me to all parts of the town, and I am constantly shocked almost beyond endurance at the filth and misery in which a large part of our population are permitted to drag on a diseased and miserable existence. I consider a large portion, if not the whole, of this accumulation of dirt and filth is caused by the bad and inefficient sewerage of the metropolis. I am acquainted with numberless houses in Westminster where the cellars are constantly flooded, and having no drainage, the occupiers are obliged to pump out the water, which, from being stagnant, is foul and offensive. If in the performance of this necessary duty the matter becomes known, they are summoned to the public office and fined 5l.; however much, therefore, the evil is felt in permitting the continuance of stagnant water, the alternative of the fine for pumping out is worse; they submit therefore to the lesser evil, and leave the water in the cellars. * * *

“I am quite sure, from much observation, that the occupiers of houses in all neighbourhoods are much influenced in their habits of cleanliness by the facilities afforded for draining, and by the want of carriage and 46foot-paving in the streets; and it is equally certain that both health and life are frequently sacrificed by the constant damps and unwholesome smell, occasioned entirely by the absence of all means to carry off the impurities, which, in densely populated neighbourhoods, increase with such fearful rapidity.”

It might have been expected, from the value of the refuse as manure (one of the most powerful known), that the great demand for it would have afforded a price which might have returned, in some degree, the expense and charge of cleansing. But this appears not to be the case in the metropolis. It is stated that at present, with the exception of coal-ashes, which are indispensable for making bricks, some description of lees, and a few other inconsiderable exceptions, no refuse in London pays half the expense of removal by cartage. The cost of removal, or of the labour and cartage, limits the general use or deposit of the refuse within a radius which does not exceed three miles beyond the line of the district-post of the metropolis, that is, about six miles. It is stated that, partly from the nature of the holdings, and from other circumstances within this limited district, agricultural improvements are not so great as might be expected where the facilities are so easy for obtaining any quantity of manure. Some idea may be formed of the loss of value of this manure from the metropolis, occasioned by the expense of its collection and removal, from the evidence of a considerable contractor for scavengering, &c., who states, with respect to the most productive manure,—“I have given away thousands of loads of night-soil: we knew not what to do with it.”[4]

In the parts of some towns adjacent to the rural districts the cesspools are emptied gratuitously for the sake of the manure; but they only do this when there is a considerable accumulation, and any accumulation of any decomposing material which offends the smell is injurious to the health, especially in a town where all miasma is less diluted with fresh air, and where the population is less robust. For the saving of cartage, as well as the convenience of use, accumulations of refuse are frequently allowed to remain and decompose and dry amidst the habitations of the poorer classes. Dr. Laurie in his report on the sanitary condition of Greenock, furnishes an example. He says,—

“The first question I generally put when a new case of fever is admitted, is as to their locality. I was struck with the number of admissions from Market-street; most of the cases coming from that locality became quickly typhoid, and made slow recoveries. This is a narrow back street; it is almost overhung by a steep hill, rising immediately behind it; it contains the lowest description of houses, built closely together, the access to the dwellings being through filthy closes. The front entrance is generally the only outlet. Numerous food 47for the production of miasma lies concealed in this street. I think I could point out one in each close.

“In one part of the street there is a dunghill,—yet it is too large to be called a dunghill. I do not misstate its size when I say it contains a hundred cubic yards of impure filth, collected from all parts of the town. It is never removed; it is the stock-in-trade of a person who deals in dung; he retails it by cartfuls. To please his customers, he always keeps a nucleus, as the older the filth is the higher is the price. The proprietor has an extensive privy attached to the concern. This collection is fronting the public street; it is enclosed in front by a wall; the height of the wall is about 12 feet, and the dung overtops it; the malarious moisture oozes through the wall, and runs over the pavement. The effluvia all round about this place in summer is horrible. There is a land of houses adjoining, four stories in height, and in the summer each house swarms with myriads of flies; every article of food and drink must be covered, otherwise, if left exposed for a minute, the flies immediately attack it, and it is rendered unfit for use, from the strong taste of the dunghill left by the flies. But there is a still more extensive dunghill in this street; at least, if not so high, it covers double the extent of surface. What the depth is I cannot say. It is attached to the slaughter-house, and belongs, I believe, to the town authorities. It is not only the receptacle for the dung and offal from the slaughter-house, but the sweepings of the streets are also conveyed and deposited there; it has likewise a public privy attached. In the slaughter-house itself, which is adjoining the street, the blood and offal is allowed to lie a long time, and the smell in summer is highly offensive. In two of the narrow closes opposite the market, there is in each a small space not built upon, and that space, being the only spare ground in the close, is occupied by a dunghill; these two closes are notorious as nurseries for fever. I believe it to be a rare occurrence when fever is not to be found in them during any time of the year. Market-street is certainly one of the most filthy and unhealthy streets in Greenock; it is needless to say that many places here and there throughout the town are as bad, indeed, I may state that from the best to the worst locality in the town there is not a street but requires to be subjected to some rigid system for removing away regularly the rubbish and impurities which are constantly exhaling forth so much, and which is indirectly the cause of the yearly increase of so much destitution.”

Mr. Baker, in his report, gives another instance of the ignorance and carelessness under which the health of the population suffers.

“The contractor for the street sweepings, who is the treator with the Commissioners of Public Nuisances in Leeds, last year rented a plot of vacant land in the centre of the North-east ward, the largest ward in point of population in the township of Leeds, and containing the greatest number of poor, and this year rents, in the East ward, another plot of land, as a depôt for the sweepings from the streets and markets, both vegetable and general, for the purpose of exsiccating and accumulating till they could be sold as manure and carried away. So noisome were these exhalations, that the inhabitants complained of their utter inability to ventilate their sleeping-rooms during the day time, and of the insufferable stench to which both by night and day they were thus subjected.”

48The comparatively recent mode of cleansing adopted in the wealthy and newly-built districts by the use of water-closets, and the discharge of all refuse at once from the house through the drain into the sewers, saves the delay and the previous accumulation, and it also saves the expense of the old means of removal. It is most applicable to the poorer districts, because really the most economical, when they are properly sewered and supplied with water. The cost of cheap and appropriate apparatus, and of water for cleansing, it will be proved is a reduction of the mere cost of cleansing in the old method, independently of the cost incurred by the decay of woodwork and deterioration of the tenement which commonly takes place on premises in the condition of those described by Mr. Howell. The chief objection to the extension of this system is the pollution of the water of the river into which the sewers are discharged. Admitting the expediency of avoiding the pollution, it is nevertheless proved to be an evil of almost inappreciable magnitude in comparison with the ill health occasioned by the constant retention of several hundred thousand accumulations of pollution in the most densely-peopled districts.

There is much evidence, however, to prove that it is possible to remove the refuse in such a mode as to avoid the pollution of the river, and at the same time avoid the culpable waste of the most important manure.

A practical example of the money value which lies in the refuse of a town, when removed in the cheapest manner, and applied in the form best adapted to production, viz., by a system of cleansing by water, is afforded in connexion with the city of Edinburgh. In the course of the sanitary inquiry in that city the particular attention of Dr. Arnott and myself was directed to the effects of some offensive irrigation of the land which had taken place in the immediate vicinity of that city. It appears that the contents of a large proportion of the sinks, drains, and privies of that city are conveyed in covered sewers to the eastern suburb of the town, where they are emptied into a stream called the Foul Burn, which passes ultimately into the sea. The stream is thus made into a large uncovered sewer or drain. Several years ago some of the occupiers of the land in the immediate vicinity of this stream diverted parts of it, and collected the soil which it contained in tanks for use as manure. After this practice had been adopted for a long period, the farmers in the vicinity gradually found that the most beneficial mode of applying the manure was in the liquid form, and they conducted the stream over their meadows by irrigation. Others, perceiving the extraordinary fertility thus obtained, followed the example, and by degrees about 300 acres of meadow, chiefly in the eastern parts of that city, but all in its immediate vicinity, and the greater part of it in the neighbourhood of the palace of Holyrood, have been systematically irrigated with the contents of this common sewer. From 49some of this land so irrigated, four or five crops a-year have been obtained; land once worth from 40s. to 50s. per acre now lets for very high sums. It is stated by a writer cited as an authority, on behalf of the parties interested,—

“That the rent for which some of these meadows are let in small portions to cow-feeders varies on an average from 20l. to 30l. per acre. Some of the richest meadows were let in 1835 at 38l. per acre; and in that season of scarce forage, 1826, 57l. per acre were obtained for the same meadows. * * * The waste land called Figget Whins, containing 30 acres, and 10 acres of poor sandy soil adjoining them, were formed into water meadows in 1821, at an expense of 1000l. The pasture of the Figget Whins used to be let for 40l. a-year, and that of the 10 acres at 60l. Now the same ground as meadows lets for 15l. or 20l. an acre a-year, and will probably let for more, as the land becomes more and more enriched.”

This use of irrigation followed so gradually, that the time of its commencement seems not accurately ascertained, but is known to have been usual near the beginning of the present century. The tanks are still to a certain extent used. The irrigation proceeds from the beginning of April to the middle of September, and, it is supposed that the deposits in the tanks are in the interval increased by the quantity of soil not employed in irrigations.

The practice is strongly objected to by the inhabitants as an offensive and injurious nuisance. To Dr. Arnott, who surveyed the district, the process appeared to be, like most offensive processes, unfitted for the vicinity of a town. The miasma from the preparation of the large accumulations of manure in open receptacles near places of public resort or crowded habitations would probably affect the public health injuriously to a greater or less degree. In particular states of the weather it could scarcely fail to engender disease. In the decomposition of substances for manure, deleterious gasses will be evolved, which in particular states of the atmosphere will act with powerful effects on animal life within their reach. But it is at the same time stated, the process of applying manure by irrigation, that is, separated and diluted with water, is considered to be productive of less deleterious gas, of less injurious effects, than by spreading it over fields in a solid form, and allowing it to remain until it is decomposed and separated by the atmosphere and conveyed into the soil by rain. Liebig, the greatest living authority on agricultural chemistry, states that night-soil loses in drying half its valuable products, that is, half its “nitrogen,” for the “ammonia” escapes into the atmosphere. By irrigation, by the diffusion and conveyance of the manure to the plant in the medium of water the escape of the valuable substance as a noxious and injurious gas is diminished.[5] Whatever extent of loss there is from manures by decomposition when placed 50on the land in a solid form, and when exposed to the action of the atmosphere, it is stated that there is proportionate gain by holding the material in suspension in water. The simple offensiveness, it may be assumed, is a sufficient ground of exclusion of any process from amidst the habitations of a town population. But at a reasonable distance the use of dung or any other manure would not be forbidden; and the process which is the least injurious, the irrigative, is entitled therefore to a preference. Effective drainage must make way for the conveyance of diluted manures, and consequently for effective irrigation.

The continuance of the practice in Edinburgh of the use of the common sewer for irrigation is defended by the occupiers and owners, on the ground that from the time of its commencement, when it was unopposed, and, as it appears to us, escaped any notice, a legal right has been acquired by them in the manure of the city contained in the Burn, and the present claimants of the right contend that they are entitled to compensation under the Scotch law for any diversion of the stream or of the manure which it contains. The irrigation which has surrounded the palace of Holyrood having, as it is considered, rendered it prejudicial to health, Her Majesty’s government, for the protection of this palace as a royal residence, have directed legal process for the trial of the right claimed to the irrigation. The defendants vindicate the measure on the ground of its utility as an agricultural operation, and treat the proposal to divert the contents of the sewers as being in fact a proposal to deprive the city of the milk and butter yielded by more than 3000 milch cows, and the markets of the meat from their carcases; that, in fact, “the grass, which in virtue of irrigation these meadows produce, supports in Edinburgh 3300 cows, and in Leith 600 cows, during the season.”[6] We were informed that 51the parties interested in the lands estimate the compensation that would induce them to discontinue the practice at 150,000l.; and a pamphlet written at their instance, in 1840, states this as the sum which the proprietors of the meadows to the west of the city would be legally entitled to (independently of the claims of those in the east) were the practice abolished by legislative authority. The proprietors have had, on several occasions, sufficient influence to frustrate the efforts of the city authorities, to obtain legislative sanction for the removal of the nuisance, and for a more salubrious disposal of it for the advantage of the inhabitants themselves.

The public refuse of cities by the usual course of legislation in local Acts, and by custom, and on all principles which govern the application of the proceeds of such produce belongs to the public, and it may be submitted that, whatever may be the decision in the case of Edinburgh, means should be taken to prevent for the future the acquisition of new rights at the expense of the health and of the conveniences of such large classes of the population. And it may here be observed that it will probably be found, under the circumstances of the increasing population of the towns, and the increasing necessity of keeping open spaces within and around the towns, and of exercising a general control for the beneficial arrangement of new buildings for the public health and convenience, and of securing convenient public walks and places of temperate and healthful recreation for the population—that it is most desirable for all these objects that means should be taken to redeem to the crown the fee, or otherwise obtain as early as practicable, and on the terms of proper compensation, lands within and in the immediate vicinity of towns for public use.

If then, in Edinburgh, the contents of the cesspools were carried by adequate supplies of water in drains from the houses into covered sewers, and thence in covered instead of open sewers to the lands at proper distances where it might be distributed as manure by irrigation, it would be a mode of irrigation considered by Mr. Smith of Deanston, and other authorities on drainage and irrigation, whom I consulted, the best that is now apparently practicable, i. e., the best means for removing quickly, and constantly, and the least injuriously, the matters which can only remain for removal by any other process at the expense of the public health; they concur in opinion that it would also be the most productive mode of distributing the manure.

On the scale of the value set upon that portion of the refuse of Edinburgh that has been appropriated for irrigation by the occupiers of the land in the vicinity of the city, the value of the whole of the soil of the city (not one-third of which finds its way into 52the irrigated meadows), if it were made completely available by an appropriate system of town drainage, would be double or treble the amount, producing an income of 15,000l. to 20,000l. per annum for public purposes. On the same scale of value it would appear that, in the metropolis, refuse to the value of nearly double what is now paid for the water of the metropolis is thrown away, partly from the districts which are sewered into the Thames, and partly from the poor districts which are unsewered, where it accumulates and remains a nuisance until it is removed at a great expense. It is allowed by Captain Vetch, an experienced engineer, and by other authorities, to be the most eligible plan in respect to economy as well as efficiency, wherever the levels were not convenient, or it were desirable to send the refuse over heights for distribution, that the contents of the sewers should be lifted by steam power, as water is lifted in the drainage of the fens, and that it might be sent for distribution, wherever it is required for use, in iron pipes, in the same mode as that in which water is conveyed into towns by the water companies. The estimated expense of this mode of cleansing and removal is about the same as the conveyance of water into towns, i. e., not a tithe of the expense of cartage, as will subsequently be shown.

The comparative economy of conveyance of fluid in pipes has been but little observed, and has only recently perhaps been applied for the purpose of cleansing. The following is an instance of the application of the principle:—A contract was about to be entered into by the West Middlesex Water Company for hauling out from their reservoir at Kensington the deposit of eight or ten years’ silt, which had accumulated to the depth of three or four feet. The contractor offered to remove this quantity, which covered nearly an acre of surface, for the sum of 400l., in three or four weeks. The reservoir was emptied in order to be inspected by the engineer and directors before the contract was accepted. It occurred to one of the officers that the cleansing might be accomplished more readily by merely stirring up the silt, to mix it with the water; and then if a cut or outlet were made in the main-pipe used for conveying the water to London, that it might be washed out. He accordingly got thirty or forty men to work in stirring up the deposit, and accomplished the work at the cost of 40l. or 50l. and three or four days’ labour, instead of so many weeks; when the directors went to see the basin, to decide upon the contract, the reservoir was as free from any deposit as a house-floor. Since the discovery thus made, the silt has been regularly cleansed out into the common sewers. It is to be observed, in respect to the relative cheapness of the two modes, that the contractor would only have removed the silt to the nearest convenient place of deposit in the immediate vicinity of the reservoir, whereas, in the fluid state, it might be carried at the actual cost of conveying water, as far 53as it is at present conveyed, and sold with a profit, 12 or 14 miles, and raised to heights of 150 feet, at 2½d. per ton.

By the application of capital and machinery, the cost of conveyance of substances in suspension in a fluid, even at the water companies’ prices, may be rendered thirty and even more than forty times as cheap as collection by hand labour and removal by cartage. In the metropolis, where the persons who water the roads may obtain water gratuitously from pumps, the water supplied by stand-pipes by some of the water companies at 1l. per 100 tons, is found to be twice as cheap as the mere labour of pumping the water into the cart. By proper hydraulic arrangements heavy solid substances may be swept away through the iron pipes.

These means which science gives of cheapening the cost of the conveyance of refuse from houses, will be available also in extending and completing the cleansing of the towns, of removing the filth which oppresses the poorer districts, and rendering the whole of it available, in the best form, for future use as manure.

The expense of cleansing the streets of the township of Manchester is 5,000l. per annum. For this sum the first class of streets, namely, the most opulent and the large thoroughfares, are cleansed once a-week, the second class once a-fortnight, and the third class once a-month. But this provision leaves untouched, or leaves in the condition described in Dr. Baron Howard’s report, the courts, alleys, and places where the poorest classes live, and where the cleansing should be daily. There are abundance of recommendations to the effect, “Let it be ordered that the streets be properly cleansed;” but in this instance the cost of cleansing the whole of what is properly the same town, Salford, and the out-townships, would be 8,000l. or 10,000l. per annum; and such a recommendation, under the existing modes of management, is equivalent to saying, let 20,000l. or 30,000l. of additional rates be expended, and 40,000 or 60,000 additional loads of refuse be removed. In other large towns, the service and the expense is on a similar scale. At the rate of expense of one large parish, the present cost of cleansing in the metropolis may be estimated at about 40,000l. per annum. This expense, however, is generally repaid by the sale of the coal-ashes, which are used in the manufacture of bricks.

Though the refuse of the poorer districts is often taken and sold, the immediate objection to the extension of the services of the scavenger to them is the increase of the immediate expense, which it is practically necessary to consider in detail, although if there were no compensation by the sale of any coal-ashes or house refuse, and if the occupants were required to pay for the cleansing at the rate of one of the opulent parishes in the metropolis, that is at the rate of 4s. per house per annum, which would be less than a penny per tenement for the weekly street cleansing; 54or in the poorer districts, where there are mostly two families to a tenement, a charge of less than one halfpenny per week for cleansing, would be found to be good economy, as one means of diminishing the existing heavy charge of sickness, not to speak of the wear and tear of clothes.

Two-thirds of the usual expense of street cleansing is the expense of cartage, which, with a proper adaptation of the sewers, is wholly unnecessary. The exclusive use of hand-labour in street-sweeping is pronounced by competent judges to be a mere barbarism, and several machines have been invented which demonstrate that by mechanical power, moved by horses, the cleansing may be effected in a far shorter time. Some of these scrape the mud in ridges to the sides, where it remains until it can be lifted and carted away. But this is objected to as inconvenient by the shopkeepers, and the scavengers object that it is no convenience to them, inasmuch as raking it in heaps prevents the evaporation of the liquid, and increases the cartage; and, moreover, that the process of sweeping by hand is as quick as the carts can return for its removal. A machine has been used at Manchester which rapidly and cleanly sweeps the level surfaces of the streets into a cart; but there is still the encumberance of the labour, and cost and delay of carting the refuse to a place of deposit, which may be several miles distant, and returning to reload. The value of a process of street-cleansing is proportioned to the rapidity with which it is performed, but at present it is usually delayed until the sun or the air has done a large portion of the work by the evaporation of the moisture, commonly however to the deterioration of the air of the town and the health, and also to the deterioration of the value of the refuse.

On examining these obstructions to the cleanliness and salubrity of our towns, it became apparent that the expensive and slow process of the removal of the surface refuse of the streets by cartage might be dispensed with, and the whole at once carried away by the mode which is proved, in the case of the refuse of houses, to be the most rapid, cheap, and convenient, namely, by sweeping it at once into the sewers, and discharging it by water.

The sewerage of the metropolis, though it is a frequent subject of boast to those who have not examined its operations or effects, will be found to be a vast monument of defective administration, of lavish expenditure, and extremely defective execution. The general defect of these works is, that they are so constructed as to accumulate deposits within them; that the accumulations remain for years, and are at last only removed at a great expense, and in an offensive manner, by hand-labour and cartage. The effect is to generate and retain in large quantities before the houses the gases which it is the object of cleansing to remove. In the course of the present inquiry instances have been frequently presented of fevers and deaths occasioned by the escapes of gas from the sewers into the 55streets and houses. In the evidence given before the Committee of the House of Commons, which received evidence on the subject in 1834, one medical witness stated, that of all cases of severe typhus that he had seen, eight-tenths were either in houses of which the drains from the sewers were untrapped, or which, being trapped, were situated opposite gully-holes; and he mentioned instances where servants sleeping in the lower rooms of houses were invariably attacked with fever. It was proposed as a remedy to prevent the escape of the noxious effluvia by trapping them, but this was refused on the ground of the danger to the men, who must enter the sewers to clean them, from the confined gas. In one of the circulars the reason assigned for allowing the escape of the gas into the streets is that if it were confined in the sewers it might impede the flow of the water. It was then proposed to allow the escape of the noxious gases through chimneys constructed at certain distances. But this was decided to be an experiment, and the Committee did not feel themselves authorized to make experiments. Instances were adduced where it had been found necessary either to trap or to remove gully-holes in the vicinity of butchers’ shops, to avoid the injurious effects of the effluvium upon the meat. Similarly mischievous effects of the defective construction and management of the sewers are commonly displayed in the medical reports from the provincial towns, and they have been incidentally noticed in the passages already cited.

It may be mentioned as another instance of the absence of appropriate knowledge that has governed these structural arrangements, that a large proportion of the most expensive sewers are constructed with flat bottoms. In proportion as the water is spread the flow is impeded, and the deposit of matter it may hold in suspension increased. Mr. Roe, a civil engineer, who, much to the honour of the Holborn and Finsbury district of sewers, has been appointed to the care of their sewers, and is perhaps the only officer having the experience and qualifications of a civil engineer, states, that as compared with sewers or drains with bottoms of a semicircular form, those with flat bottoms invariably occasion a larger amount of deposit; and with the same flow of water, the difference of construction occasions a difference of more than one-half in the deposit which is left. By the common and most expensive form, the drains are apt to be choked up with noxious accumulations; by being built with flat sides (instead of with curved sides, which give the strength of an arch) they are apt in clayey and slippery ground to be forced in. The expense of the improved form is nearly one-fourth less than those in general use. Mr. Roe, whose evidence, which is corroborated by the evidence of other engineers, is given in the Appendix, was asked,—

In respect to the levels, how have you found the sewers?—They appear to have been entirely constructed with reference to the locality, to 56drain to the nearest outlet, and not on an extended view for the whole district, or with any view to sewerage on a large scale. In the Holborn and Finsbury divisions the Commissioners now adopt a series of levels suited from the lowest outlets to the surrounding districts.

Have you heard of any alterations made in the surrounding districts on the same principle?—I have heard of none as adopted generally. The City have lowered several of their outlets; and the chairman of the Westminster Commission has had the subject under consideration for some time.

What are the chief effects of the piecemeal town drainage without reference to extended levels?—Chiefly that when new lines of houses are built and require new sewers, either the old sewers must be taken up and re-constructed at a great expense, to adjust them to a new and effective sewerage, or the new sewers, if they are adjusted to the old ones, are deficient in fall, and they have greater deposits.

Does the existing form or system of sewerage answer fully and at the least expense the chief objects of sewerage in house and street cleansing, and the removal of noxious substances?—No, it does not, except where the outlets have been lowered, and the sewers continued at a proper level; great accumulations of deposit are occasioned in the sewers, and from their containing the refuse that was at one time deposited in the cesspools, the deposit is more noxious than formerly; the gas is more considerable, it escapes more extensively into streets and into the houses, where the drains are not well trapped. My opinion is that the general health of the men who work and have been accustomed to the sewers, has become still worse; they are more pale and thin, and lower in general health than formerly. The effect of the noxious gases upon men working in these places is to lower the general health. Since I have had the superintendence of the sewers, the men have encountered about half a dozen accidents by explosions of gas.

But is the health of these men who work in the sewers to be taken as a criterion of the health of persons who are not accustomed to such places?—I have had no means of forming a comparison, though I am of opinion that gases which they encounter without any immediate injury would be very injurious to the health of susceptible persons, or of any persons not habituated to it.

The first prejudicial effect of the defective system, then, is to occasion these noxious accumulations; how are they removed?—Formerly, in the Holborn and Finsbury sewers, and at present, I believe, in all other sewers, the streets were opened at a great expense and obstruction (they are so now, I believe, elsewhere); men descend, scoop up the deposit into pails, which are raised by a windlass to the surface, and laid there until the carts come; it is laid there until it is carted away, sometimes for several hours, to the public annoyance and prejudice. The contract price for removal from the old sewers without man-holes was 11s. per cubic yard of slop removed; where they have man-holes it was 6s. 10d. per cubic yard. This practice also involves injury and expense as respects the pavement; a street may be well paved when it is broken up for the cleansing of the sewers, but the portions of pavements so disturbed are never so well put down again; neither can accidents be effectually guarded against.

57By what means may these effects be obviated?—In the Holborn and Finsbury divisions I suggested a plan of flushing the sewers, and of carrying off all the refuse by water. This plan has been adopted, and it is now in operation. The breaking up of the streets is avoided by the formation of side entrances; cast-iron flushing gates are fixed in the sewers; the ordinary flow of water in the sewers accumulates at these gates; the gates are opened, and the force of the water is sufficient to sweep off the deposit; and the system may be further extended.

What is the comparative difference in the expense of construction?—The cost of side entrances and flood-gates, as compared with the cost of man-holes, is from 6d. to 1s. less per foot lineal of the length of new sewers.

What other expense is attendant on this improved practice?—The main expense is the attendance of a man to shut and open the flood-gates.

The structural expense being lower, is the ultimate expense of cleansing lower also?—Yes; the expense of cleansing the sewers is about 50 per cent. less than the prevalent mode. Our expense of cleansing the sewers was about 1,200l. per annum; we save 600l. of that, and expect to save more; but to this must be added the saving to the public of the cleansing of the private drains, formerly choked by the accumulations in the sewers. This saving, on a moderate calculation, is found to be upwards of 300l. per annum. There is also the diminution of the escapes of gas from the old and continued accumulations.

During what intervals are deposits allowed to remain on the old mode?—The average is in one set of sewers about five years, and in another about ten years.

During which time the public are subjected to all the escapes of gas from the decomposing accumulation?—Exactly so. It could not, however go on so long but for heavy falls of rain or snow, which occasion partial clearances.

What is the effect of these accumulations upon the private drainage?—That the drains to the private houses are stopped: the first intimation of the foul state of the main sewer arises from complaints of individuals whose drains are affected; the accumulations in the private drains also occasions an expense to the individuals and much annoyance. By flushing the sewers this expense might be, and in Holborn and Finsbury division it is, avoided.

Are there any other defects you have, as an engineer, noticed in the prevalent mode of constructing the sewers?—Yes, the prevalent practice is to join sewers at angles, frequently at right angles; this occasions eddies and deposits of sediment that would otherwise pass off with the water; it injures the capacity of the main sewers by obstructing the current of water along them: I ascertained by experiment that the time occupied in the passage of an equal quantity of water, along similar lengths of sewer with equal falls, was—

Along a straight line 90
With a true curve 100
With a turn at right angles 140

The Commissioners of the Holborn and Finsbury divisions agreed to require that the curves in sewers, passing from one street to another, 58shall be formed with a radius of not less than 20 feet; it is also required that the inclination or fall shall be increased at the junction, in order to preserve an equal capacity for the passage of water, and of effect in sweeping away the deposit.

When by heavy falls of snow or otherwise the refuse of the streets is carried into such sewers, is there any difficulty in sweeping it away?—None whatsoever.

In what number of years would the saving in cleansing sewers by flushing repay the expense of applying the apparatus to the existing sewers in the Holborn and Finsbury divisions?—In seven years.

Have you any doubt of the practicability of carrying all the surface cleansing of the streets into the sewers, and removing it by conveyance in water, instead of by hand labour and cartage?—I entertain no doubt whatever that it might be done, where there is a good sewer and proper gully-holes and shoots; with a good supply of water these would carry away rapidly all the surface refuse; the experience of the sewerage in the Holborn and Finsbury divisions prove it.

How does it prove it?—At every opportunity the street-sweepers sweep all they can into the gully-holes, and it is swept away without inconvenience.

One practical witness states that the expense of the cartage alone of the refuse from a Macadamised street of half a mile, in the winter time in the metropolis, is 5l. weekly. What would be the comparative expense of carrying it away by the sewers?—It would save the whole expense of the cartage; it would be less than the present expense of sweeping and filling into the carts, and if there were a sufficient supply of water on the surface, the work might be conducted with great rapidity.

You are aware that one inconvenience of the existing mode of street cleansing, independently of the great expense, is the length of time during which the wet refuse remains to the public annoyance on the surface, until removed by the slow process of sweeping and cartage?—Yes; and the men would appear to delay for the purpose of the dirt being removed, by being washed by rain into the sewers.

Do you conceive that all the business of street cleansing and house draining might be consolidated advantageously to the public?—Yes, clearly so, and with great economy.

In the evidence of Mr. Oldfield, an experienced builder in the wealthy districts of the metropolis, will be found exemplifications of the mischiefs resulting from the defective modes of opening sub-drains or communications, even from houses of the first class, into the main drains.[7] The state of sewerage and drainage in the larger towns, as described in the medical reports, in its effects of frequent disease and death,—is much worse in the provincial towns. But every step in improvement is an advance in reduction of existing burdens; drainage, per se, will be found to be a reduction of an existing charge for the expenses of sickness and mortality; science, applied to the improvement of drainage, not only gives it efficiency, but reduces greatly the expense.

59The streets in the larger towns commonly display, from the want of science in their construction, similar waste, and equally admit of an improved and scientific arrangement, which will conduce to economy and to improved public health.

The bad condition of the streets in many of the towns is very generally ascribable to pavement being commonly regarded as requisite solely for cart or carriage conveyance, and not as a means of cleanliness. The pavement has therefore been usually confined to the chief streets in which the carriage traffic is considerable. Some of the principal streets even in the metropolis almost justify the description of being “streams of mud and filth in winter,” and “seas of dust” in summer. But attention has of late been directed to the cleansing of the road as a means of removing damp and dirt or dust, which are each found to be injurious. So far as various experiments have yet proceeded in the metropolis, they are stated to be highly favourable to the use of wood as a substance for paving the streets, though perhaps in forms different from those at present in use, with improvements which further experience will suggest. Wood, when pinned together and laid on a firm substratum, appears to be less retentive of wet than most forms of stone pavement, and to possess very considerable advantages over the Macadamised roads for crowded thoroughfares. If it be brought into general use it will have an advantage in removing the granite dust, which medical authorities believe to be much more prejudicial to health, in exciting or aggravating lung diseases, than the public have been aware of. Where there is much dust in the working of close quarries, the effects of it are almost as destructive to the lungs of the operatives as the knife-grinding to the operatives of Sheffield who do not guard against the steel-dust. “It is scarcely conceivable,” Dr. Arnott states, “that the immense quantities of granite-dust pounded by one or two hundred thousand pairs of wheels working on Macadamised streets, should not greatly injure the public health. In houses bordering such streets or roads, it is found that, notwithstanding the practice of watering, the furniture is often covered with dust even more than once in the day, so that writing on it with the finger becomes legible, and the lungs and air-tubes of the inhabitants, with a moist lining to detain the dust, are constantly pumping the same atmosphere. The passengers by a stage-coach in dry weather, when the wind is moving with them so as to keep them enveloped in the cloud of dust raised by the horses’ feet and the wheels of the coach, have their clothes soon saturated to whiteness with the dust, and their lungs of course are charged in a corresponding degree. A gentleman who rode only 20 miles in this way, had afterwards to cough and expectorate for 10 days to clear his chest again.” The imperfection of road cleansing in paved streets at the same time deteriorates the salubrity of the towns, the value of the refuse for production, and the streets themselves. The farmers 60find that the refuse of the streets, of which horse-dung and other excrementitious substances form so important a part, is valuable in proportion as it is “fresh.” On a proposition to sweep the streets of a town district oftener, it was stated by some farmers that they would, in that case, give more for the refuse. It is with this description of refuse, as stated with respect to the night-soil, in proportion as it is allowed to remain in the streets to dry, it loses the gas which gives it value; and the gas which is lost frequently gives to streets the offensive smell perceptible to strangers who have not been familiarised to it, and makes a deleterious addition to the compounds by which the health of the town population is injured. The complete and rapid cleansing of the roads has also its effects on the draught. It is proved experimentally that, “calling the draught on a broken-stone road 5, that on the same road covered with dust is 8, and that on the same road wet and muddy is 10.”[8] A road should be cleansed “from time to time, so as never to have half an inch of mud upon it. This is particularly necessary to be attended to where the materials are weak, for if the surface is not kept clean, so as to admit of its becoming dry in the intervals between showers of rain, it will be rapidly worn away.” With the even surface obtainable from the use of wood as a pavement, it is stated that the streets which are now kept wet and dirty whilst the process of cleansing is slowly carried on by the hand, may be rapidly and cheaply swept by sweeping-machines drawn by horses. With the advantage of such a system of sewerage as that described by Mr. Roe, the surface refuse, which continues exposed during a whole week, may be removed every morning before the hours of traffic from all the principal thoroughfares. In the main streets of the towns of considerable traffic, a smooth and firm surface for the carriage-way would ensure the advantages of a railroad, in addition to those to the public health from cleanliness. The experience on several portions of smooth road shows that single horses with lighter and less expensive vehicles would suffice where two horses are now required on the common roads; where strong stone pavements are required to resist the shock of heavy vehicles, and heavy vehicles propelled with double power to resist the battering of strong pavements, and the grinding and wear and tear of heavy and dirty roads.

Captain Vetch, the engineer, who is extensively acquainted with the structural economy of towns, observes in a communication on the subject, that—

“The other mode of avoiding the formation of mud is the substitution of wooden pavements; of the success of these I have little doubt, though for the present many failures have occurred, either from the foundation not having been truly and firmly laid, or from the blocks of 61wood not being massive enough. The greatest objection to wood pavements at present is the slipping of the horses, but this I believe might be obviated. The question, however, at present is to get rid of the street dirt, such as it is; and for that purpose I concur in opinion it would only be necessary in wet weather during rains that the street-cleaner should sweep the dirt into the kennels, and aid the water by stirring the mud, to carry off the material in a state of diffusion; in dry weather, the opening of pipes with hose attached would serve the same purpose as the rains, and at the same time aid the sewerage at the time most required. After a short but heavy fall of rain, the cleansing effect of the water is fully perceived: and if any means could be devised of saving the rain-water that falls on the houses and in the streets, so as to apply it in considerable quantities at intervals, it is probable that the rain-water would be amply sufficient for all the purposes in question.”

Mr. Roe states, that arrangements were made with the water companies for supplies of water for the cleansing of the sewers in the Holborn and Finsbury district, but it was found that the ordinary supplies to the sewers sufficed, and those from the company were not used.

The cleansing of the streets and the removal of the impurities from the habitations appears to have been the subject of considerable attention at Paris of late years. An individual proposed to the administration of that city a mode of cleansing the streets and pavement, by sweeping all the refuse into the sewers which are discharged into the Seine, that had hitherto been daily gathered into heaps and carted away beyond the precincts. The minister of police thought it advisable to take the opinion of the Institute on the proposal. The superiority of the proposed mode of street cleansing was admitted, but the members of the Institute, to whom the subject was referred, having ascertained the quantity of rubbish which was daily collected in Paris, and also the quantity of water which flowed in the Seine during the summer-time, they found that this volume of water was 9600 times greater than the greatest quantity of filth and rubbish collected in the same length of time from the streets of Paris; and they reported as their conclusion, “that the quantity of dirt which would be thrown into the Seine, compared with the volume of water in the river, would be found to be so extremely small as to be absolutely inappreciable; that it was not from the consideration therefore of insalubrity that the project for cleaning the streets as proposed should be negatived, but solely because by that means there would be lost a quantity of most valuable manure, which was quite indispensable to the agriculture around Paris, and consequently to Paris itself.”[9]

Mr. Roe has furnished me with a calculation made from the flow of water in the Thames, at a neap tide: taking the ebb, and comparing it with the quantity of deposit in the water running from the sewers from the whole of the metropolis (assuming that 62the sewerage bears the same proportion as the Holborn and Finsbury division), that the proportion of impurities to the volume of water of the Thames is as 1 to 10,100. If the surface cleansing of the streets were added to the ordinary mass of impurity, he calculates that the proportion held in suspension would then be about 1 to 5069. To this must be added the impurities from land-floods, and those from vessels in the river. The amount of impurity discharged from the sewers was calculated from the amount of deposit known to have been formed in several of them. The amount of impurity in the Thames would therefore be, at the least, double the amount of that calculated for the Seine.[10]

If the evils of the pollution of such a stream were much greater, they would still be found inconsiderable as compared with the perpetual pollution of the air by the retention of ordures and refuse amidst large masses of the population. What has been stated as to the practicability of extending threefold the cleansing of towns, by dispensing with cartage, and using the sewers for the removal of the refuse of the streets, is stated as an advantage, even on the supposition that no use is made of the refuse, and that it is entirely thrown away. But it were a reproach to stop at the advance to this far lesser evil, and to add to the pollution of the streams of the towns, which throughout the country form the chief common sewers, by throwing into them everything that is vile in the towns, i. e. everything that is most valuable for increasing the surrounding fertility.

On a full examination of the evidence adduced and of the evidence indicated, it will, I trust, be found to be satisfactorily established; that the houses of towns may be constantly and rapidly cleansed of noxious refuse by adaptation of drains and public sewers; and that with such an adaptation, for one street or one district cleansed at the present expense three may be cleansed by the proposed mode; that the natural streams flowing near towns may be preserved from the pollution caused by the influx of the contents of the public sewers, by the conveyance of all refuse through covered pipes, and that the existing cost of conveyance, by which its use for production is restricted, may 63be reduced to less than one-fortieth or fiftieth of the present expense of removal by hand labour and cartage;[11] that these bounties on cleanliness and salubrity on the one hand, and beneficial production on the other, are dependent on skilful and appropriate administrative arrangements. But for the attainment of these objects, and the relief of the worst-conditioned districts, another provision appears to be requisite, namely, appropriate

Supplies of Water.

Besides those reports from towns in which a large proportion of their salubrity is attributed to a natural drainage, from the porosity of the soil, or from the undulations of the surface being favourable to the discharge of moisture, as at Birmingham, other reports ascribe a large proportion of the comparative health of the population to advantageous circumstances, in respect to the supplies of water. From such information as that already cited, it will be manifest that for an efficient system of house cleansing and sewerage, it is indispensable that proper supplies of pure water should be provided, and be laid on in the houses in towns of every size, and, it might be added, in all considerable rural villages. No previous investigations had led me to conceive the great extent to which the labouring classes are subjected to privations, not only of water for the purpose of ablution, house cleansing, and sewerage, but of wholesome water for drinking, and culinary purposes.

Mr. John Liddle, one of the medical officers of the Whitechapel union, after describing the deplorable condition of the 64dwellings of the labouring population in that part of London, states, that—

“In connexion with this state of things is the deficiency of water which is not laid on in any of their houses.

“How do they get such water as they use?—They get it for the most part from a plug in the courts. I cannot say whether it is the actual scarcity of water, or their reluctance to fetch it, but the effect is a scarcity of water. When I have occasion to visit their rooms, I find they have only a very scanty supply of water in their tubs. When they are washing, the smell of the dirt mixed with the soap is the most offensive of all the smells I have to encounter. They merely pass dirty linen through very dirty water. The smell of the linen itself, when so washed, is very offensive, and must have an injurious effect on the health of the occupants. The filth of their dwellings is excessive, so is their personal filth. When they attend my surgery, I am always obliged to have the door open. When I am coming down stairs from the parlour, I know at the distance of a flight of stairs whether there are any poor patients in the surgery. Any one who attends on the relief days of the out-door relief may satisfy himself as to the personal condition of these parties.

“Are the courts in which the labouring classes reside, in your district, paved or cleansed?—They are not flagged, they have a sort of pebbles; they are always wet and dirty. The people, having no convenience in their houses for getting rid of waste water, throw it down at the doors. If I cast my eye over the whole district at this moment, I do not think that one house for the working classes will be found in which there is such a thing as a sink for getting rid of the water.

“Then there is not such a thing as a house with the water laid on?—Not one in the poorer places. There is also the want of cesspools; there is only one or two places for a whole court, and soil lies about the places which are in a most offensive condition.

“What is the number of cases which you visit for the administration of medical relief during the year?—During the last year the number of cases was 1560, all of them out-patients.

“Has not a large sewer been recently formed through your district?—Yes, through Rosemary-lane.

“What has been its effect?—Very little as respects the inhabitants of the courts; the landlords are not compelled, and do not go to the expense of making any communication from the courts to the sewer; the courts are in as wet and dirty and in as bad a condition as ever.

“What are the rents paid for these descriptions of tenements?—I am informed, very high rents. I am informed that this description of property pays a better per centage than any other description of property.—My impression is that it pays as much as 20 per cent. in many instances.”

This evidence exhibits the common condition of large masses of habitations, even in the metropolis, where there are so many competing companies.

Mr. Mott states that, in Manchester,—

“There are numerous pumps and a plentiful supply of water within a few feet of the surface, to say nothing of the various tanks and cisterns in factories and private dwellings, which in this proverbially rainy district 65are always abundantly supplied; but, from the nature of the atmosphere, the rain-water is frequently like ink. The Irwell and Medlock rivers run through the town of Manchester; but being receptacles for all kinds of filth and refuse, the water is too impure for general use. In the suburbs of Manchester the water is generally procured through the medium of rain-water cisterns, or from very shallow wells by pumps. In the better class of houses it is generally filtered, but the poorer classes use it without any preparation. The custom is for owners of small cottage property to erect a pump for the use of a given number of houses; this pump is frequently rented by one of the tenants, who keeps it locked, and each of the other tenants are taxed a certain sum per month for the use of it. One poor woman told me she paid 1s. per month. The water company give a plentiful supply to small houses at 6s. per year, or about half what this woman paid for a precarious supply from the subscription pump. The Stockport Local Act empowers the commissioners of that town to compel the cottage owners to provide a good supply of water to their tenants.”

Mr. John Moyle, medical officer of the Truro union, states—

“But few houses are properly supplied with water. In very dry seasons, they have to fetch water from a distance varying from a quarter to 1½ mile.”

This is at present the condition of a large proportion of the houses in Hampstead, Highgate, and Hendon, where water is purchased by the pailful.

Mr. Daniel Antrobus, medical officer of the Audley district, Newcastle union, Staffordshire, says—

“They have seldom a good supply of water, are without pumps, and the occupants are obliged to obtain it from stagnant reservoirs or impure springs, situate often at a considerable distance.”

Mr. Henry Cribb, the medical officer of the Dunmow union reports, as a circumstance which is highly injurious to the health,—

“The want of good and wholesome spring-water: there being scarcely any pumps for the use of the poor, they are compelled to use water collected from ditches; and I have known it frequently to be not only very impure, but almost in a putrid state.”

The medical officer of the Bishop’s Stortford union, states—

“I am of opinion that, in this and most of the rural parishes, complaints often arise from the want of good and wholesome spring-water, there being very few pumps, or even wells, and the poor being compelled to use water collected from ditches and other impure sources; this circumstance, connected with the very imperfect drainage, I think requires strict investigation.”

Mr. Whilpels, the medical officer of the Lexden and Winstree union, states—

“There is a point I deem most worthy of notice, I allude to the deficiency of spring-water. The inhabitants of Salcot Virley and Great Wigborough are compelled to drink pond-water, which is impure, brackish, and most injurious to the constitution. The few who have 66the means, send for water a distance of four miles; to obviate this evil would be a blessing conferred upon the great mass of the population residing in these parishes.”

Mr. William Blower, surgeon of Bedford, states,—

“At Wootton (near Bedford) the labourers are very numerous, and before the passing the Poor Law Amendment Act the greater part of them were dependent for support upon the poor-rates. The land was enclosed and undrained, employment was scanty, and wages were very low; the water was very bad, the inhabitants being principally supplied from pits dug near their houses, and filled by rain in the winter, which in the summer, and particularly in dry seasons, were almost emptied by use and evaporation, leaving only a muddy fluid covered with a green scum, and loaded with aquatic animals and plants. Sporadic typhus prevailed extensively in the summer and autumn, and ague in the winter and spring.

“Since the introduction of the New Poor Law and the enclosure of the land, considerable draining has been effected, employment has been more plentiful, and the wages higher, and many of the labourers have allotments of ground. Typhus has been rapidly diminishing, and this year (1839) there was no case until November, and then only two. This must principally be attributed to the improved state of the parish, and partly, perhaps, this year, to the wetness of the season, by which the water-pits have been kept nearly full, so that the conditions favourable to the generation of malaria have not existed.

“A few wells have been dug lately, and good water has been obtained, and there is every probability if the water-pits were filled up, and more wells dug, and the draining completed, that sporadic typhus and ague, which have so long infested this village, and occasioned so much distress and expense, might be entirely eradicated. A respectable farmer informed me that, in the neighbouring parish of Houghton, a few years ago, his was the only family that used well-water, and almost the only one that escaped ague.”

The state of the supplies of water to the labouring classes in Scotland appears to be similar to that prevalent in the towns and the rural districts of England.

Mr. William Tait, surgeon, of Edinburgh, states, in regard to the houses in the High-street, Cowgate, and Canongate:—

“The dwellings of the poor are remarkable for their generally uncomfortable appearance, and I attribute this in most instances to a deficient supply of water, necessaries, and such like conveniences. There are no receptacles for filth of any description, and it is either accumulated in the stairs or dwellings themselves, and the stairs are scarcely ever washed. And how can it be otherwise, seeing that the poor have to travel for a considerable distance for water, and afterwards carry it up five, six, or seven stories?”

The Return from Glasgow states that the—

“Sewers or drains are left uncovered, and with no diluting water except the refuse of families and rain-water.”


“There is no scarcity of water if carried into the poorer houses.”

67Dr. Alexander Cuddie, of Aberdeen, states that the—

“Water is plentiful; but it would be proper to bring it into the houses of the poor as well as the rich.”

Mr. Forrest, in his report on the sanitary condition of the population of Stirling, states that in that town—

“The supply of water is often very deficient. There is no water-company, and the water is not conveyed into the houses even of the wealthy inhabitants. In times of scarcity it is no uncommon occurrence to see from 80 to 100 persons waiting at each public well for water; and the scarcity of it is often made an excuse by servants for the neglect of domestic duties. I may therefore with propriety say, that the poor of Stirling are often not properly supplied with water for the purposes stated in the query.”

The Rev. George Lewis, the minister of St. David’s parish, Dundee, in speaking of drainage, says that—

“Everything in this way is done very imperfectly; drains and sewers are insufficient, and run into the mill-pond.”

That there is—

“No water, except what is purchased or taken out of the filthy mill-pond.”

Another informant states—

“The west and south-west suburbs are destitute of water, and have no sewers; the north and east suburbs are also badly supplied with water, and have no drains. Indeed there are only two drains in the town that I know of, and I should think them rather hurtful than otherwise, as there is not water enough to scour them out.”

In answer to the question, whether the residences of the population amidst which contagious febrile diseases arise are properly supplied with water for the purposes of cleanliness of the houses, person, and clothing? Dr. John Macintyre, of Greenock, states that—

“Their proprietors or landlords, with a few exceptions, have not properly supplied them with water, although an ample supply of that necessary aid to cleanliness can be cheaply obtained by means of pipes from the Shaws’ Water Company.”

Dr. James Sym states that—

“There are few wells of good water in Ayr. The water in general is strongly impregnated with lime, and the supply is defective. Strangers find it unpleasant, and I believe horses which have not been used with it are apt to suffer when it is given them to drink.”

Mr. A. Cochrane and Mr. W. J. Thomson, surgeons, of Arbroath, state—

“That the town is well supplied with hard water, but that an abundant supply of soft water might be brought into the town with very little expense from a spring in the neighbourhood.”

68The Return from Renfrew states that—

“A plentiful supply of water may be had from the street wells, and also from a burn which runs close to the town.”

Dr. Henry Douglas, of Dunfermline, says—

“They are very inadequately supplied with water for these purposes.”

The return from Kirkwall, states—

“That water is supplied at public wells: there is no scarcity of water, but it is somewhat hard.”

Dr. W. B. Ross, of Tain, in reply to the question whether the town is properly supplied with water? says—

“By no means; the water is very hard, and unfit for most domestic purposes.”

Dr. S. Scott Alison, in his Report on the sanatory condition of the town of Tranent, furnishes an exemplification of the condition of many of the smaller towns:—

“I do not believe there is a house in Tranent into which water is conducted by pipes. There existed great difficulty on many occasions in getting water at all. During the seven years I lived there, the village was, on the whole, extremely ill supplied with water: it was usual for it to be occasionally absent from Tranent altogether. Last summer the supply of water was stopped for several months. The inhabitants suffered the greatest inconvenience from this cause; they could not get sufficient water to maintain cleanliness of person and clothes; it was even difficult for labouring people to get enough to cook their victuals; and I know that many of the poor were, in consequence, reduced to the practice of using impure and unwholesome water. On these occasions water was carried from a considerable distance from the village. Some went the distance of a mile; some used barrels drawn on carriages; some employed children to bring it in small vessels; and, I doubt not, many went without it, when it was highly necessary, from inability or infirmity to go themselves, and from want of funds to employ another for the purpose. Since the above was written I have learned from a lady, previously resident in Tranent, that, when cholera prevailed in that district, some of the patients suffered very much indeed from want of water, and that so great was the privation, that on that calamitous occasion people went into the ploughed fields and gathered the rain water which collected in depressions in the ground, and actually in the prints made by horses’ feet. Tranent was formerly well supplied with water of excellent quality by a spring above the village, which flows through a sand-bed. The water flows into Tranent at its head, or highest quarter, and is received into about 10 wells, distributed throughout the village. The people supply themselves at these wells when they contain water. When the supply is small, the water pours in a very small stream only; and it happens, in consequence, that on these occasions of scarcity great crowds of women and children assemble at these places, waiting their ‘turn,’ as it is termed. I have seen women fighting for water. The wells are sometimes frequented throughout the whole night. It 69was generally believed by the population that this stoppage of the water was owing to its stream being diverted into a coal-pit which was sunk in the sand-bed above Tranent. That pit has been lined with sheets of iron, and the water has lately returned to Tranent in great abundance.”

The observations made by Mr. Burton, in his Report, appear to be deserving of attentive consideration. He states—

“I have reason to believe that in many parts of Scotland the want of a good supply of water is one of the most material impediments to the furtherance of cleanly habits among the working people. Besides the immediate evils of a narrow supply, much time is wasted, and many bad habits are acquired by those who have to wait their turn at the wells in a time of drought. Dundee, Stirling, Dunfermline, Lanark, and Arbroath, are all, I believe, imperfectly supplied. The community of Dundee have spent about 30,000l. in a contest between the supporters of two contending water-bills; and I understand that an Act which was passed about three years ago has been found incapable of being put in operation. The evil is rendered more serious by the demand for cooling water for the numerous steam-engines, and the article is so precious that it is for these purposes repeatedly re-cooled by exposure and evaporation after it has been heated. I believe that in many of the colliery and manufacturing districts there is inconvenience, amounting to suffering, from want of water. Where there is a positive deficiency of the element on the spot, the means of procuring a supply from another place are so various and so dependent on local circumstances, that nothing but some arbitrary authority, possessed of sufficient funds, could ensure its being obtained in every instance.”

On these and various reports from the medical officers and others in England, as well as from Scotland, in which it is stated in terms similar to the return from Renfrew, “that a plentiful supply of water may be had from the street wells, and also from a burn which runs close to the town,” it is to be observed, that the economy of a town, or of any considerable collection of habitations, appears to be essentially defective, insofar as it leaves a large proportion of the inhabitants dependent on such a mode of supply.

Supplies of water obtained from wells by the labour of fetching and carrying it in buckets or vessels do not answer the purpose of regular supplies of water brought into the house without such labour, and kept ready in cisterns for the various purposes of cleanliness. The interposition of the labour of going out and bringing home water from a distance acts as an obstacle to the formation of better habits; and I deem it an important principle to be borne in mind, that in the actual condition of the lower classes, conveniences of this description must precede and form the habits. It is in vain to expect of the great majority of them that the disposition, still less the habits, will precede or anticipate and create the conveniences. Even with persons of a higher condition, the habits are greatly dependent on the conveniences, and it is observed, that when the supplies of water into the houses of persons of the middle class are cut off 70by the pipes being frozen, and when it is necessary to send for water to a distance, the house-cleansings and washings are diminished by the inconvenience; and every presumption is afforded that if it were at all times requisite for them to send to a distance for water, and in all weathers, their habits of household cleanliness would be deteriorated. In Paris and other towns where the middle classes have not the advantage of supplies of water brought into the houses, the general habits of household and personal cleanliness are inferior to those of the inhabitants of towns who do enjoy the advantage. The whole family of the labouring man in the manufacturing towns rise early, before daylight in winter time, to go to their work; they toil hard, and they return to their homes late at night. It is a serious inconvenience, as well as discomfort to them to have to fetch water at a distance out of doors from the pump or the river on every occasion that it may be wanted, whether it may be in cold, in rain, or in snow. The minor comforts of cleanliness are of course forgone, to avoid the immediate and greater discomforts of having to fetch the water. In general it has appeared in the course of the present inquiry that the state of the conveniences gives, at the same time, a very fair indication of the state of the habits of the population, in respect to household, and even personal cleanliness. The Rev. Whitwell Elwin, the chaplain of the Bath union, gives the following illustration of the habits of many of the working population even in that city, which is well supplied with water:—

“A man had to fetch water from one of the public pumps in Bath, the distance from his house being about a quarter of a mile,—‘It is as valuable,’ he said, ‘as strong beer. We can’t use it for cooking, or anything of that sort, but only for drinking and tea.’ ‘Then where do you get water for cooking and washing?’—‘Why, from the river. But it is muddy, and often stinks bad, because all the filth is carried there.’ ‘Do you then prefer to cook your victuals in water which is muddy and stinks to walking a quarter of a mile to fetch it from the pump?’—‘We can’t help ourselves, you know. We could not go all that way for it.’ There are many gentlemen’s houses in the same district in which the water is not fit for cooking; and I know that much privation and inconvenience is undergone to avoid the expense of water-carriage. I have often wondered to see the shifts which have been endured rather than be at the cost of an extra pail of water, of which the price was three halfpence. With the poor, far less obstacles are an absolute barrier, because no privation is felt by them so little as that of cleanliness. The propensity to dirt is so strong, the steps so few and easy, that nothing but the utmost facilities for water can act as a counterpoise; and such is the love of uncleanliness, when once contracted, that no habit, not even drunkenness, is so difficult to eradicate.”

In most towns, and certainly in the larger manufacturing towns, those members of a family who are of strength to fetch water are usually of strength to be employed in profitable industry, and the mere value of their time expended in the labour of fetching water, 71is almost always much higher than the cost of regular supplies of water even at the charge made by the water companies. In Glasgow the charge for supplying a labourer’s tenement is 5s. per annum; in Manchester 6s. In London the usual charge is 10s. for a tenement containing two families, for which sum two tons and a half of water per week may be obtained if needed. For 5s. per annum, then, as a water-rate (on which from 10 to 20 per cent. is paid to the owner for collection), each labourer’s family may be supplied in the metropolis with one ton and a quarter of water weekly, if they find it necessary to use so much. The ton is 216 gallons, equal to 108 pails full, at two gallons the pail. Thus for less than one penny farthing, 135 pails full of water are taken into the house without the labour of fetching, without spilling or disturbance, and placed in constant readiness for use. Under any circumstances, if the labourer or his wife or child would otherwise be employed, even in the lowest-paid labour or in knitting stockings, the cost of fetching water by hand is extravagantly high as compared with the highest cost of water lifted by steam and conducted through iron pipes at a large expenditure of capital (the lowest in London is about 200,000l.) and by an expensive management. In illustration of the difference in economy of the two modes of conveyance, I may mention that the usual cost of filtered water carried into the houses at Paris by the water-carriers, is two sous the pailful, being at the rate of 9s. per ton; whilst the highest charge of any of the companies in London for sending the same quantity of water to any place within the range of their pipes, and delivering it at an average level of 100 feet, at the highest charge, is 6d. per ton.

At the highest of the water companies’ charges it would be good economy for the health of the labourer’s family to pay for water being laid on in the house, to reduce the expense of medicines and loss of work in the family, as indicated by any of the tables of sickness. The cost of laying on the water in a labourer’s tenement, and providing a butt or receptacle to hold it, may be stated to be on an average 40s., which will last twenty years.

The experience of the water companies tends to show that the distribution of water directly into the houses where it is wanted, would be good economy of the water. When the supply of water into the houses is stopped by frost, and cocks are, on that occasion, opened in the streets, the supply of water required is one-third greater than usual; as great, indeed, as it is in the heat of summer, when there is a large additional consumption for watering gardens and roads. I would here suggest that it is essential that the water should be charged on the owners of all the smaller weekly tenements, because, where the owner finds it necessary to collect the rent weekly, the smaller collection of rates for longer periods would often be impracticable, and the expense 72of the collection alone of such small rates weekly (1¼d. per week) would be more than the amount collected.

The mode of supplying water by private companies for the sake of a profit is not however available for the supply of a population, where the numbers are too small to defray the expense of obtaining a private Act of parliament, or the expense of management by a board of directors, or to produce profits to shareholders; it is, therefore, a mode not available to the population of the country who do not reside in the chief towns. The Poor Law Commissioners have been urgently requested to allow the expense for procuring supplies for villages to be defrayed out of the poor’s rates in England, but they could only express their regret that the law gave them no power to allow such a mode of obtaining the benefit sought. The mode of supply by private companies is, however, the subject of complaint in the populous towns, where it is the only mode.

Although there is little probability that regular supplies of water would ever have been obtained without the inducement of salaries to the managers and of returns of interest to the capitalists; although the cost of most of the supplies at the highest is much lower than the labour of fetching water from a pump close to the house, and no valid objection appears against compulsory provisions for water being laid on (i. e. for existing charges of labour being reduced) in the tenements of the labouring classes in towns, at the common charge of the water companies: still the appearance of a profit and of dividends on the supply of a natural commodity does, in the new districts at least, furnish pretexts for the objection of the poorer owners and ignorant occupiers to the supposed expense of the improvement which consists in an immediate outlay. Apart from such objections, however, it is a mode of obtaining supplies attended with great inconveniences, which it is desirable to have considered with respect to new improvements. The payment of a dividend for an improved supply of such a commodity will be found as imperfect a measure, even of its pecuniary value, as it would be of the pecuniary value of a good and abundant supply of air and of the light of day. There are numerous indirect effects of the use of such a commodity, of which a pecuniary estimate cannot conveniently be made, as against an immediate outlay. For example, there is little ground left for doubt that the effect of street and house cleansing by means of the supplies of water needed in the worst districts, would occasion considerable reductions in the pecuniary charge of sickness on the poor’s rates, but it would be extremely difficult to obtain these results in money to make up, with any pretence to accuracy, a profit and loss account as an undertaking for the outlay. The evidence afforded by the creation and success of a private company proves only that a certain class of persons so far appreciate the advantages of the supply as to be willing to incur such an immediate expense as will 73cover the cost, and yield a profit to the undertakers; it proves nothing as to the intrinsic value of the service or the commodity, which may be immense to the bulk of the community, and yet not one be found ready to volunteer to defray a portion of the expense. But the expense of the machinery of water companies, as already stated, is disproportioned to the means of the smaller towns and to a large part of the country; and generations may pass away amidst filth and pestilence before the scientific means and the economy of prevention can be appreciated by them. And there are further objections made in towns to the mode of supply itself. One is, that it creates strong interest against all improvements in the quality or the supplies of water; for every considerable improvement creates expense, which is felt, in diminution of the dividends of the private shareholders; and so long as a majority of the ratepayers are content with bad water, or deem it hopeless to seek to obtain water of a superior quality, so long as any public clamour will not endanger the dividends, it appears that no amendment entailing considerable expense can be expected. Even where there are convenient unappropriated streams, and a wide field is afforded for competition by a very populous district, the competition of different companies does not necessarily furnish to the individual consumer any choice or amendment of the supplies.

The competition frequently absorbs the profit on the funds that might be available to the competing parties (supposing them disposed to carry out any plans other than those which have for their object the cheapest supply that can be procured), and does not reduce the charge of the supply of water to the public. At one time there were three sets of water-pipes belonging to three different companies passing through the same streets of a large proportion of the metropolis. This wasteful competition of three immense capitals sunk in the supply of one district, for which the expenditure of one capital and one establishment would have sufficed, ended in an agreement between the competing companies to confine themselves to particular districts. The dividends at present obtained by the shareholders of the chief companies in the metropolis on the capital now employed, appears, however, to be only 4, 5, or 6 per cent., but this is on several expensive establishments and sets of officers, which appear to admit of consolidation. The committee of the House of Commons which investigated the subject of the supplies of water in 1821, concluded by recommending a consolidation of the several trusts, but excepting that the competition between them has abated, the expense and waste of separate establishments is still continued, and beyond this the expense of the fixed capital and establishment, charged upon perhaps one-third the proper supply of water.

The private companies are also complained of as being practically irresponsible and arbitrary, and unaccommodating towards individuals. It is a further subject of complaint, as respects supplies by such companies, that they are directed almost exclusively 74to the supplies of such private houses as can pay water-rates; that they are not arranged for the important objects of cleansing of the streets or drains, or of supplying of water in case of fire. I have not been able to observe the extent of foundation for these complaints. Whilst no strong motive for aggressive proceedings by the companies against individuals appears, the existing force of the following statement made by the Committee referred to, which sat in 1821, will be admitted:—

“The public is at present without any protection, even against a further indefinite extension of demand. In cases of dispute, there is no tribunal but the boards of the companies themselves to which individuals can appeal; there are no regulations but such as the companies may have voluntarily imposed upon themselves, and may therefore revoke at any time, for the continuance of the supply in its present state, or for defining the cases in which it may be withdrawn from the householder. All these points, and others of the same nature, indispensably require legislative regulation, where the subject matter is an article of the first necessity, and the supply has, from peculiar circumstances, got into such a course that it is not under the operation of those principles which govern supply and demand in other cases.”

Since the period of that report, there has been no legislation on the subject other than that in new Acts, or on the renewal of old ones, clauses have been introduced empowering any individual rate-payer to demand a supply of water.

In some instances legislative permissions have been given to the local authorities to obtain supplies for the use of towns, but the permissions have not been accompanied with the requisite powers to make them available.

Bath, however, is supplied with water under the authority of the local Act of the 6 Geo. III. (c. 70), for paving, &c. which, after reciting that there was a scarcity of water within the city and precincts, and that there were in the neighbourhood of the said city several springs of water belonging to the corporation, enacts that the corporation shall have full power to cause water to be conveyed to the said city from such springs, and gives them authority to enter upon and break up the soil of any public highway, or common, or waste ground, and the soil of any private grounds within two miles of the city, and the soil or pavement of any street within the city, in order to drain and collect the water of the springs, and to make reservoirs sufficient for keeping such water, and to erect conduits, water-houses, and engines necessary for distributing it, and to lay under ground aqueducts and pipes most convenient for the same purpose. The Act vests the right and property of all water-courses leading from the said springs to the city, and also of all reservoirs, conduits, water-houses, and engines, erected or used for the purpose, in the mayor, aldermen, and citizens of Bath. The following extract from a communication 75from the Rev. Whitwell Elwin, who has closely investigated the economy of the poorest classes in that city, thus describes the present state of the supply:—

“Bath is surrounded by hills which pour down a vast quantity of water into reservoirs. Pipes are laid from these reservoirs to every part of Bath, and as the springs from which the water originally rises are as high up on the hills as the roofs of the houses, water can be carried into the attics without the application of a forcing pump: thus no machinery is employed. The only water-works are the pipes which convey the water.

“These reservoirs are the property of different persons, and there are five distinct parties by which particular districts in Bath are supplied. They are the Bath Corporation, the Freemen’s Company, the Circus Company, the Duke of Cleveland, and Captain Gunning. There can scarcely be said to be any competition, because the possession of a spring in a particular locality gives a monopoly of the surrounding neighbourhood. But wherever there is room for selection, the supply of the corporation is always preferred. It is often resorted to even where the distance is much greater than to other springs; the supply being more regular, more abundant, and cheaper than the rest, with the exception of that of the Duke of Cleveland, who only provides his own tenants. The corporation supplies more than three parts of the town. There are at present 2184 persons paying water-rates, but the number of houses furnished with water is considerably greater, because courts and rows of cottages have frequently a common cistern. Where this is the case each cottage making use of the cistern pays a rent of 10s. a-year, and where the house has a cistern of its own, 20s. a-year. The charge for the water is in proportion to the rent of the house. The quantity of water supplied is about a hogshead a-day. In summer, when the springs are low, the quantity is not so great. The laying down and repair of the feather, that is the pipe which branches from the main pipe, is at the cost of the tenant.

“In addition to these private supplies the corporation provides five public pumps, which are open to all the inhabitants free of expense.

“The greater part of the cottages in the town itself, but not in the suburbs, make use of the water-works. There is generally a pump in addition, which yields water too hard and bad for domestic purposes.

“The water rents of the corporation for the last year were 3,233l. 2s., the expenses (including salaries, rent for springs, repairs of pipes) 449l. 3s. 3d., thus leaving a profit of 2,783l. 18s. 9d. This sum is applied to the reduction of the borough rate.

“The advantages of this system over private companies appear to me great and incontestable. Here are no expenses for solicitors, or litigation between rival concerns; no collusion between coalescing companies to raise the charges to the utmost amount that the inhabitants will bear; no exorbitant salaries to the variety of officers, which every separate establishment demands. A few watermen, whose united salaries are only 114l. 8s. per annum, is the sole addition to the ordinary corporation machinery. When to this we add that all the profits are for the benefit of the town and not for individuals—that the sum paid in water-rate is thus pretty nearly deducted from the borough rate—we can 76hardly hesitate to strike the balance. The corporation management, here at least, gives unlimited satisfaction. They are under the direct control of the ratepayers, properly desirous to conciliate their opinion, and are sure to hear of any incivility, which, as they have no interest in protecting it, they are always ready to redress.”

In this instance, however, it is to be observed that the real cost of the water to the corporation is not more than one-seventh their charge to the consumer; consequently, the charge for a supply out of the house may be said to be less than 1s. 6d. per annum; and it will admit of little doubt that if the water were lifted by steam power and carried into every tenement, as it might be, the actual expense need not be doubled; six-sevenths then of the charge, which is about the same as the ordinary charges of water companies, is to be considered as a borough rate, levied in the shape of a water rate, applied doubtless to some other proper public services.

An example is presented in Manchester of the practicability of obtaining supplies for the common benefit of a town without the agency of private companies. In that town gas has for some years past been supplied from works erected and conducted not by the municipality but by a body appointed under a local Act by an elected committee of the ratepayers. This mode of supplying the town was, it appears, violently opposed by private interests; but I am informed that the supplies of gas are of as good or even of a better quality, and cheaper than those obtained from private companies in adjacent towns; that improvements in the manufacture of the gas are more speedily adopted than in private associations, and the profits are reserved as a public fund for the improvement of the town. Out of this fund a fine Town Hall has been erected, whole streets have been widened, and various large improvements have been made; and the income now available for the further improvement of the town exceeds 10,000l. per annum, after providing for the expense of management and the interest of the sinking fund on the money borrowed. There are now in the same districts in the metropolis no less than three immense capitals sunk in competition,—three sets of gas-pipes passing through the same streets, three expensive sets of principal and subordinate officers where one would suffice, comparatively high charges for gas to the consumers, and low dividends to the shareholders of the companies in competition. Where a scientific and trustworthy agency can be obtained for the public, manifest opportunities present themselves for considerable economy on such modes of obtaining supplies. A proposal was made in Manchester to obtain supplies of water for the town in the same manner as the supplies of gas, but the owners of the private pumps, who, it is stated, have the monopoly of the convenient springs, and exact double the charge for which even private companies are ready to convey supplies into the houses, made a compact and effectual opposition to the proposal, 77contending that the supplies of rain-water (which are sometimes absolutely black with the soot held in suspension), together with that from the springs was sufficient, and the proposal was defeated. These petty interests could not, however, avail against the more powerful interest of a joint-stock company, which was established to procure supplies for the middle and wealthier classes of the town.

There appears to be no reason to doubt that the mode of supplying water to Bath and gas to the town of Manchester might be generally adopted in supplying water to the population. Powers would be required to enter into the lands adjacent to the towns on a reasonable compensation to the owners to obtain supplies of water; and, as the management of water-works requires appropriate skill, it would be necessary to appoint an officer with special qualifications for their superintendence. Ordinary service may be obtained for the public, if recourse be had to the ordinary motives by which such service is engaged in private companies. It is not mentioned invidiously, but as a matter of fact, that the majority, not to say the whole, of such undertakings by joint stock companies, are, in the first instance, moved by a solicitor, or engineer, or other person, for the sake of the office of manager of the works, and that the directors and shareholders, and the inducement of profit to them, through the benefit undoubtedly to the public, are only the machinery to the attainment of the object for which the undertaking is primarily moved. If competent officers be appointed and adequately remunerated for the service, there can be little doubt that the public may, as at Bath and Manchester, be saved the expense of the management by the occasional attendance of unskilled directors, and that they may save the expense of dividends, or apply the profits to public improvements, as at Manchester, and moreover avoid the inconveniences and obstructions undoubtedly belonging to the supply of a commodity so essential to the public health, comfort, and economy, by a private monopoly. Bad supplies of water would, I apprehend, generally be less tolerated by the influential inhabitants of all parties from a public municipal agency than from a private company.

Another ground for the recommendation that supplies of water for the labouring classes should be brought under some public authority, is that some care may be taken to prevent the use of unwholesome supplies.

The queries transmitted to the medical officers were directed to ascertain the sufficiency of the supplies for the purpose of cleansing, but the returns frequently advert to the bad effect of inferior supplies upon the health of the population; and it is scarcely conceivable to what filthy water custom reconciles the people. Yet water containing animal matter, which is the most feared, appears to be less frequently injurious than that which is the clearest, namely, spring-water, from the latter being oftener 78impregnated with mineral substances; but there are instances of ill health produced by both descriptions of water. The beneficial effects derived from care as to the qualities of the water is now proved in the navy, where fatal dysentery formerly prevailed to an immense extent, in consequence of the impure and putrid state of the supplies; and care is now generally exercised on the subject by the medical officers of the army. In the Dublin Hospital Reports, for example, we have the following statement, which is still more important, as showing the extent to which the nature of the water influences health:—

“Dr. M. Barry affirms that the troops were frequently liable to dysentery, while they occupied the old barracks at Cork; but he has heard that it has been of rare occurrence in the new barracks. Several years ago, when the disease raged violently in the old barracks, (now the depôt for convicts,) the care of the sick was, in the absence of the regimental surgeon, entrusted to the late Mr. Bell, surgeon, in Cork. At the period in question the troops were supplied with water from the river Lee, which, in passing through the city, is rendered unfit for drinking by the influx of the contents of the sewers from the houses, and likewise is brackish from the tide, which ascends into their channels. Mr. Bell, suspecting that the water might have caused the dysentery, upon assuming the care of the sick, had a number of water-carts engaged to bring water for the troops from a spring called the Lady’s Well, at the same time that they were no longer permitted to drink the water from the river. From this simple, but judicious arrangement, the dysentery very shortly disappeared among the troops.”—Dublin Hospital Reports, vol. iii. 11. Paper by Dr. Cheyne “On Dysentery.”

Parent du Chatelet, the most industrious and able of modern investigators into questions of public health, gives the following instance, which in like manner demonstrates the amount of disease generated solely by the use of bad water, as well as the difficulty of detecting the specific effects produced by it:—

“When I visited last year the prisons of Paris with my friend Villermé, who was interested in prisons generally, I was extremely surprised at the proportion of sick in the hospital of St. Lazarus, relatively to the whole population of the prisons. The prison, uniting all the conditions necessary to health as regards its position, construction, the dress and food of the prisoners, who were constantly kept at work, how explain the much greater proportion of sick to what we remark in other prisons of a bad condition, and in which are found united all the apparent causes of unhealthiness?—This, I must confess, has baffled all calculation, and has driven every one to say that there must be a cause for the peculiarity, but that it could not he discovered. I do not despair to have hit upon that cause, and I believe it is to be recognised in the nature of the water drunk by the prisoners. Having tasted it in the wooden reservoir behind the house, which was in bad order, and full of plants of the genus confervæ, I found it had a detestable and truly repulsive taste, a circumstance which does not appear to have been hitherto remarked. Might not the cause, then, he detected in the chemical nature of the water of Belleville and of the neighbourhood of St. Gervais, of which 79the prisoners drink exclusively? What proves it is the striking resemblance which exists in this respect between the water of Belleville and that in the wells of the entrance-court of the hospital of the Salpêtriere, which both contain a very great proportion of sulphate of lime, and other purgative salts. Now the venerable Professor Pinel and his pupil Schwilgué have remarked for more than 20 years the influence that the water of the wells of which I speak has upon the portion of the population of the hospital who make use of it, and they believe that certain affections connected evidently with locality cannot be attributed to any other cause, and particularly the disposition to chronic diarrhœa which is so often observed in this hospital. It turns out upon examination that the greater part of the sick who fill the infirmary of the prison of St. Lazarus are brought there for illnesses of the same identical nature. In the prison they are obliged to have recourse to the water of the Seine to cook the vegetables and other food, an evident proof of the truth, or at least the probability, of all I have just advanced.”

In the metropolis the public owes the analysis of the supplies of water and some improvement of supplies not in their nature essentially bad, chiefly to the stirring of speculators in rival companies. But the population of the rural districts, and of the smaller towns, afford no means for the payment of companies, still less any field for pecuniary competition. As in the cases cited, it is to be feared that the knowledge gained for the safety of the health of the soldiers and the prisoners was not proclaimed for the protection of the bulk of the poorest population, who, under existing arrangements, only receive care in the shape of alleviations, when the suffering from disease is attended by the destitution which establishes the claim to relief. The middle classes are exposed to the like inconveniences, and put up with very inferior water, whilst supplies of a salubrious quality might be obtained by extended public arrangements for the common benefit.

It will not be deemed necessary to attempt to develope all the considerations applicable to the subject; and I confine myself to the representation of the fact,—That there is wide foundation for the complaint that proper supplies of water to large portions of the community are extensively wanting—that those obtained are frequently of inferior quality—that they are commonly obtained at the greatest expense when obtained by hand labour—that the supplies by private companies, though cheaper and better, are defective, and chiefly restricted to the use of the higher and middle classes, unless in such inconvenient modes (i. e. by cocks in courts), as seriously to impede the growth of habits of cleanliness amongst the working classes. To which I venture to add, as the expression of an opinion founded on communications from all parts of the kingdom, that as a highly important sanitary measure connected with any general building regulations, whether for villages or for any class of towns, arrangements should be made for all houses to be supplied with good water, and should be prescribed 80as being as essential to cleanliness and health as the possession of a roof or of due space; that for this purpose, and in places where the supplies are not at present satisfactory, power should be vested in the most eligible local administrative body, which will generally be found to be that having charge of cleansing and structural arrangements, to procure proper supplies for the cleansing of the streets, for sewerage, for protection against fires, as well as for domestic use.

Sanitary Effect of Land Drainage.

In considering the circumstances external to the residence which affect the sanitary condition of the population, the importance of a general land drainage is developed by the inquiries as to the causes of the prevalent diseases, to be of a magnitude of which no conception had been formed at the commencement of the investigation: its importance is manifested by the severe consequences of its neglect in every part of the country, as well as by its advantages in the increasing salubrity and productiveness wherever the drainage has been skilful and effectual. The following instance is presented in a report from Mr. John Marshall, Jun., the clerk to the union in the Isle of Ely:—

“It has been shown that the Isle of Ely was at one period in a desolate state, being frequently inundated by the upland waters, and destitute of adequate means of drainage; the lower parts became a wilderness of stagnant pools, the exhalations from which loaded the air with pestiferous vapours and fogs; now, by the improvements which have from time to time been made, and particularly within the last fifty years, an alteration has taken place which may appear to be the effect of magic. By the labour, industry, and spirit of the inhabitants, a forlorn waste has been converted into pleasant and fertile pastures, and they themselves have been rewarded by bounteous harvests. Drainage, embankments, engines, and enclosures have given stability to the soil (which in its nature is as rich as the Delta of Egypt) as well as salubrity to the air. These very considerable improvements, though carried on at a great expense, have at last turned to a double account, both in reclaiming much ground and improving the rest, and in contributing to the healthiness of the inhabitants. Works of modern refinement have given a totally different face and character to this once neglected spot; much has been performed, much yet remains to be accomplished by the rising generation. The demand for labour produced by drainage is incalculable, but when it is stated that where sedge and rushes but a few years since we now have fields of waving oats and even wheat, it must be evident that it is very great.

“On reference to a very perfect account of the baptisms, marriages, and burials, in Wisbech, from 1558 to 1826, I find that in the decennial periods, of which 1801, 1811, and 1821, were the middle years, the baptisms and burials were as under:—

Baptisms. Burials. Population in 1801.
1796 to 1805 1,627 1,535 4,710
1806 to 1815 1,654 1,313 5,209
1816 to 1825 2,165 1,390 6,515

“In the first of the three periods the mortality was 1 in 31; in the second, 1 in 40; in the third, 1 in 47; the latter being less than the exact mean mortality of the kingdom for the last two years. (See Registrar-general’s Second Report, p. 4, folio edition.) These figures clearly show that the mortality has wonderfully diminished in the last half century, and who can doubt but that the increased salubrity of the fens produced by drainage is a chief cause of the improvement.”

Mr. R. Turner, medical officer of the Newhaven union, states,—

“The district which has been under my care comprises five parishes, three of which, viz., Kingston, Iford, and Rodmell, are (more especially the two latter) situate in close proximity to marshes, which were formerly for a considerable portion of the year inundated; of late very extensive improvements have taken place in the drainage of these levels, and in consequence of that change, the diseases constantly engendered by marsh miasmata, viz., typhus and intermittent fevers, are not more common than in other districts which present to the eye a fairer prospect of health.”

Mr. G. R. Rowe, medical officer of the Ongar union, observes,—

“It is worthy of remark, that in the districts surrounding Chigwell no malignant, infectious, or contagious disease has appeared during my experience of thirty years’ occasional residence, and even during the prevalence of cholera not one case occurred. The land is well drained, the situation elevated, and the cleanly habits of the poor, with the benevolence of its residents, have tended much to the prevention of disease, and its amelioration when occurring.”

Mr. W. Sanders, medical officer of the Gravesend and Milton union, states,—

“I beg leave to suggest how extreme are the beneficial effects of a proper drainage, which shall prevent stagnant water, and its deleterious consequences, accumulating in crowded neighbourhoods. This is exemplified in this town, and also in Tilbury Fort opposite, which is built on a marsh, and where, during the cholera period, then under my care, not a single case occurred.”

Mr. Emerson, one of the medical officers of the Eastry union, states,—

“There is, I believe, no locality which has been for some years so exempt from fevers of a malignant and contagious character as the eastern coast of Kent. Accordingly, idiopathic fever, under the form of synochus and typhus, very rarely occurs, and when it does appear, is generally of an isolated kind. Intermittents, also, which fifteen or twenty years since were so generally prevalent in this district, have become comparatively of rare occurrence, and indeed have almost disappeared from the catalogue of our local endemics. This exemption from ague and other febrile epidemics of an infectious nature may be justly imputed to the total absence of malaria, and of all those causes which 82usually generate an unwholesome and contaminating atmosphere, viz., from the whole district being secured from inundations by the most complete and effectual system of drainage and sewerage. Also, from the exposed state of the country favouring a free and rapid evaporation from the surface of the soil.”

Mr. George Elgar, another of the medical officers of the Eastry union, observes that,—

“The parishes forming the fifth district of the Eastry union, are, with one or two exceptions, close to marshes separating the Isle of Thanet from this portion of East Kent, and consequently, during the spring and autumn, the inhabitants are exposed to the malaria therefrom; but for these last few years, owing to the excellent plan of draining, very few diseases have occurred (in my opinion) that can be said to be produced by malaria. There is very little ague, scarcely any continued fevers; and a case of typhus, I believe, has not been known along the borders of the marshes for these last three or four years. Some years back, a great portion of the parishes adjoining these marshes was under water from the end of autumn to the early part of the following spring; then, agues and fevers of all characters prevailed to a very great extent. Although the malaria does not produce diseases of any decided character, yet, during a wet spring or autumn, there are always cases of inflammation of the lungs or bowels, and rheumatism, both in acute and chronic forms. The houses in general are good, well drained and well ventilated, having one or two sitting-rooms, as many bed-rooms, sometimes more, scullery, &c., and convenient receptacles for refuse and fuel. The cottages generally are extremely cleanly; of course there must be some exceptions, where the occupiers would not be clean and careful under any circumstances.”

Mr. Spurgin, the medical officer of the Dunmow union, states—

“In this district great attention is paid to the cultivation of land, under drainage being much attended to, on which account partly we are not exposed to malaria, neither does ague prevail to any extent. A few cases have occurred, and when they have it has been for the most part in individuals whose systems have been impaired by irregular habits, and consequently the more readily affected by external impressions, as atmospheric vicissitudes.”

Mr. D. R. M’Nab, the medical officer of the Epping union, states that—

“The health of the inhabitants of these two parishes is on the whole highly satisfactory, as will appear by this return, but I would observe that the sanitary condition of two localities would be greatly improved by a little attention on the part of the public surveyors and others to the drains and ditches immediately abutting on the dwellings of the poor inhabitants. I refer more especially to that part of Epping which is denominated the Back-street, and the greater part of which is in the parish of Coopersall. In very wet weather the drains and ditches are flooded; in very dry, on the contrary, they are by the evaporation of the fluids rendered very offensive, and thus almost all our cases of malignant fever are situated amongst those dwellings; if the neighbourhood had been crowded with inhabitants the mischief would have been much greater; 83and even as it now is, it has been the cause of much fatality among the able-bodied men and women. The same observations are applicable to Duck-lane in the parish of Weald, and also at the Gullett, but in the latter case it is principally owing to the carelessness and filth of one or two families, who have thrown all sorts of excrementitious substances around their dwellings, and in the course of putrefaction it has occasionally become pestiferous.

“I may also venture to add the following observation, after twenty-six years’ practice in this neighbourhood, that I have scarcely ever had a case of typhus fever in a malignant form without discovering some stagnant drain or overcharged cesspool, or some other manifest cause of malaria in the immediate residence of the patient.”

In the reports given from the parish ministers in the statistical accounts of Scotland, the effects of drainage upon the general health of the population are strongly marked in almost every county, expressed in notes made from an examination of the returns. Sutherland—parish of Rogart, “healthy, and a good deal of draining.” Farr, “subject to no particular disease; a deal of draining.” Ross and Cromarty—Alness, dry and healthy, “climate improved by drainage.” It is to be understood that drainage appears to form the essential part of agricultural improvement, which is connected with the improvement of health. Thus the notes from another parish in the same county, Kilmuir, Wester and Suddy, states it as “healthy; great improvement; scarcely an acre in its original state.” Rosemarkie, “healthy; agriculture much improved.” Elgin—New Spynie, “healthy, much waste reclaimed, much draining.” Alves, “dry and healthy, well cultivated, wood sometimes used for drains.” Banff—Deckford, “healthy, and people long lived, much draining.” Kincardine—Fordoun, “so much draining that now no swamps: formerly, agues common, now quite unknown.” Angus—Carmylie, “health improved from draining.” Kinross—Kinross, “agues prevalent sixty years ago in consequence of marshes, now never met with.” Oswell, “ague prevailed formerly, but not since the land was drained.” Perth—Methven, “the north much improved by draining.” Redgorton, “healthy; no prevailing disease; ague was frequent formerly, but not since the land has been drained and planted.” Moneydie, “healthy; an immense improvement by draining.” Abernyte, “since the land was drained, scrofula rare and ague unknown.” Monzie, “healthy; a good deal of land reclaimed.” Auchterarder, “much draining, and waste land reclaimed—climate good.” Muckhart, “great improvement in agriculture; ague formerly prevalent—not so now.” Muthill, “healthy, much draining and cultivation extended.” And similar statements are made from the rural districts in all parts of the country.

In the course of inquiries as to what have been the effects of land drainage upon health, one frequent piece of information received has been that the rural population had not observed the effects on their own health, but they had marked the effects of drainage on the 84health and improvement of the stock. Thus the less frequent losses of stock from epidemics are beginning to be perceived as accompanying the benefits of drainage in addition to those of increased vegetable production.

Dr. Edward Harrison, in a paper in which he points out the connexion between the rot in sheep and other animals, and some important disorders in the human constitution, observes:—

“The connexion between humidity and the rot is universally admitted by experienced graziers; and it is a matter of observation, that since the brooks and rivulets in the county of Lincoln have been better managed, and the system of laying ground dry, by open ditches and under-draining, has been more judiciously practised, the rot is become far less prevalent. Sir John Pringle informs us, that persons have maintained themselves in good health, during sickly seasons, by inhabiting the upper stories of their houses; and I have reason to believe that, merely by confining sheep on high grounds through the night, they have escaped the rot.”

Dr. Harrison makes some observations on the effects of imperfect drainage in aggravating the evils intended to be remedied, of which frequent instances are presented in the course of this inquiry:—

“A grazier of my acquaintance has, for many years, occupied a large portion of an unenclosed fen, in which was a shallow piece of water that covered about an acre and a half of land. To recover it for pasturage, he cut in it several open ditches to let off the water, and obtained an imperfect drainage. His sheep immediately afterwards became liable to the rot, and in most years he lost some of them. In 1792 the drains failed so entirely, from the wetness of the season, that he got another pond of living water, and sustained, in that season, no loss of his flock. For a few succeeding years, he was generally visited with the rot; but having satisfied himself by experience, that whenever the pit was, from the weather, either completely dry or completely under water, his flock was free from the disorder, he attempted a more perfect drainage, and succeeded in making the land dry at all times. Since that period he has lost no sheep from the rot, though, till within the last two years, he continued to occupy the fen. * * *

“Mr. Harrison, of Fisherton, near Lincoln, has by judicious management laid the greatest part of his farm completely dry, and is now little troubled with the rot, unless when he wishes to give it to some particular animals. His neighbours, who have been less provident, are still severe sufferers by it, nor are their misfortunes confined to sheep alone. Pigs, cows, asses, horses, poultry, hares, and rabbits, become rotten in this lordship, and have flukes in their livers. * * * *

“The late Mr. Bakewell was of opinion, that after May-Day, he could communicate the rot at pleasure, by flooding, and afterwards stocking his closes, while they were drenched and saturated with moisture. In summer, rivers and brooks are often suddenly swollen by thunder-storms, so as to pass over their banks, and cover the adjacent low lands. In this state, no injury is sustained during the inundation; but when the water returns to its former channel, copious exhalations are produced from the 85swamps and low lands, which are exceedingly dangerous to the human constitution, and to several other animals, as well as sheep. * *

“A medical gentleman of great experience at Boston, in Lincolnshire, and who is considerably advanced in life, has frequently observed to me, that intermittents are so much diminished in his circuit, that an ounce of the cinchona goes further at this time in the treatment of agues than a pound of it did within his own recollection. During his father’s practice at Boston, they were still more obstinate and severe. For my own part, I have declared, for several years, in various companies, that marsh miasmata are the cause of both agues and the rot. And as miasmata are admitted, by the concurring testimonies of medical practitioners in every part of the globe, to be produced by the action of the sun upon low, swampy grounds, I hope this interesting subject will be fully investigated, and effectual plans carried into execution, for the preservation of man, and of the animals which are so useful to him.”

I may here mention a circumstance which occurred at the Poor Law Commission Office, and which with succeeding information tended to direct our attention to the subject of sanitary measures of prevention for the protection of the rates. A medical officer of one of the Unions who came to town for the transaction of some business before the Board, begged to be favoured by the immediate despatch of his business, inasmuch as, from a change of weather which had taken place since his departure, he was certain that he should have a number of cases waiting for him. On being asked to explain the circumstances from which he inferred the occurrence of disease with so much certainty, he stated that within his district there was a reservoir to feed a canal: that they had let out the water as they were accustomed to do in spring time for the purpose of cleansing it; and that whenever such weather occurred as then prevailed during the process, he was sure to have a great number of fever cases amongst the labourers in the village which immediately adjoined the reservoir. It appeared to be, in fact, a case in which the rot was propagated amongst the labourers in the village under circumstances similar to those before cited in which it was propagated amongst the sheep.

The following portions of evidence afford instances of the condition in which a larger proportion of the country remains, from the neglect of general land drainage, than would be conceived from any à priori estimate of the amount of prevalent intelligence and enterprize.

Mr. R. W. Martyr, one of the medical officers of the Langport union, thus describes the condition of a large proportion of his district:—

“The parishes of Kingsbury and Long Sutton being the district No. 1 B of the Langford union, the population of which amounts to above 3,000; Kingsbury, containing 2,000; and Long Sutton 1,000, or thereabouts. Both these parishes are partly surrounded by low meadow land, and are liable to frequent inundations, often covering many 86thousand acres, and sometimes to a great depth; the level of much of this land being below the bed of the main river or drains, makes it very difficult (when once inundated) in very wet seasons to drain or carry off the immense body of water they often contain.

“These inundations are caused by the banks of the main rivers not being sufficiently strong or elevated, and from the bridges not being capacious enough to carry the immense body of water brought down from the neighbouring hills and country higher up, which, in heavy rains, sometimes takes place so rapidly as to completely overflow the banks in twenty-four hours; but besides the casual or accidental giving way of the banks of the rivers, it is sometimes done by interested persons for the purpose of warding off the mischief from themselves by throwing it on their neighbours.

“When these floods occur in the winter season, and there is but little herbage, or early in the spring, and are followed by dry weather, the surface of the ground becomes dry and healthy, and they are then highly beneficial to the land, and but little prejudicial to the health of the surrounding inhabitants; but when, as is sometimes the case, these floods take place late in April, May and June, and cover hundreds of acres of hay, some cut and some uncut, and which must of course rot on the ground, the effluvia and stench is then often unbearable, and highly prejudicial to the health of the neighbouring villages, and it is sometimes years before the land recovers its healthy state, producing nothing but rank herbage, and causing agues, fevers, dysentery, and numerous other diseases. Many of these evils may, I think, be remedied if the owners of large estates in this neighbourhood would interest themselves in the matter: I am persuaded the increased value of their property would amply repay the outlay necessary for the purpose. When the land is in this unhealthy state, it appears to be equally prejudicial to the animal as the human subject, producing numerous diseases among cattle, particularly among sheep, many farmers losing the whole of their flocks.

“Although much remains to be done to remedy the mischief complained of, yet a considerable improvement has taken place within the last twenty years by enclosing many of the large commons, and by that means partially draining them; and also by enlarging the back drains which carry the water to a lower level into the main river, by which means it is carried off much sooner, and less mischief is done, than if it remained longer on the surface of the land.

“It is stated in a very old history of Somerset, that about 300 years ago, nearly the whole of the inhabitants of Kingsbury, Muchelney, and Long Load, were carried off by a pestilence (without doubt meaning a malignant fever); and that for many years afterwards it was considered so unhealthy that it was inhabited solely by outlaws, and persons of the worst character, a clear proof the country is in a much healthier state now than it was in former times.

“In addition to the more general causes of disease arising from the flat state of the country, and its liability to inundations, are many others of a more local character, and much easier of removal, in the village of Kingsbury; and in many others there are numerous pits or ponds in the winter season filled with muddy water, and, in summer, mud alone: these are often situated in the front or at the back of the cottages, and are receptacles 87for all manner of filth, and in certain seasons are productive of very serious diseases, and at all times highly injurious to health. Besides the mud pits above mentioned, there is scarcely a cottage that is not surrounded with all manner of filth, oftentimes close to the doors of the inhabitants, very few of the cottages being provided with privies, or if there be any, they only add to the general nuisance from being open and without drains.”

Mr. Oldham, the medical officer of the Chesterfield union, gives the following account of his district:—

“Wessington is situated upon an elevation, but the houses are arranged around a green or unenclosed common, upon the surface of which are a great number of small pools, which, for the most part, are stagnant. In the winter season they overflow, and at this season the neighbourhood appears less infected with fever. In the summer months, and greater part of the spring and autumn, they are stagnant, and undoubtedly a fruitful source of malaria; indeed the neighbourhood of Wessington is scarcely ever free from fever at these seasons of the year.

“It perhaps may not be amiss to mention, I have attended a number of persons in the neighbourhood of this common who have been attacked with fever, who were at the same time well fed, and lived in comfortable and tolerably well-ventilated houses.”

He then adduces instances, and proceeds—

“From the facts before mentioned, I am led to conclude that the decomposition constantly going on in these small pools is the source of the malaria, and that the malaria so engendered propagates fever. 1st. Because there are cases of fever in this locality nearly all the year. 2d. Because paupers, and persons who are better fed, and live in more comfortable and better ventilated houses in the neighbourhood of this green or common, are attacked with the disease, and, I may say, almost indiscriminately. 3d. Because during the years I have attended the paupers of the district, there has scarcely been a case of fever in the winter season when the pools are overflowed, and the atmosphere is colder, and consequently unfavourable to fermentation and decomposition. In my opinion the only method to remedy this evil would be to drain the common, which is small, and its situation being elevated, would greatly facilitate its drainage. The condition of a few of the smaller and more confined of the tenements might be greatly improved.”

Mr. L. Reynolds, one of the medical officers of the Dore union, thus describes in his report the district where some fever cases occurred:—

“Of those cases the six first have occurred on Colston Common, a small marshy spot, never drained, and containing several pools extremely unhealthy, from decaying vegetables that never are removed. This year the same families have been again attacked, and shall be so every year till that nuisance be removed. In a medical point of view, such commons are injurious, and they are extremely expensive to the unions, for they cause fever, asthma, and rheumatism, from their incipient moisture, thus injuring the labouring classes, and heavily taxing the parish.

88“The four next have occurred at a place called Toad Ditch: it well deserves the name; it is a collection of badly-built houses, rendered unhealthy from the large ditch, into which every kind of refuse is poured; the removal of that nuisance is imperatively called for. All these houses have one privy in common, but the ditch is the place generally used.

“This district would be much served by enclosing and draining Colston Commons, by keeping the sewers at Kingston clean, and by draining the ditch at Toad Ditch. These are the only removable nuisances of which I have any knowledge.”

Mr. Blick, medical officer of the Bicester union, describes the prevalence of typhus:—

“This disease has been very prevalent in this district during the past year, indeed we are never free from it. I think its origin may be traced, in most instances, to a constant exposure to an atmosphere loaded with malaria, and propagated, in the second place, by contagion, so little attention being paid to prevent its diffusion.

“The malaria alluded to arises from the decomposition of vegetable matter left upon Otmoor (a marsh of about 4000 acres), by the previous winter’s flood, and acted upon by the sun, &c., during the summer.”

Mr. J. Holt, the medical officer of the Leighton Buzzard union, reports:—

“I have had only 34 cases of remittent and intermittent fevers during the last year, which is a small number in comparison to the amount usually occurring in hot summers. The great prevalence of these fevers at such times is attributable principally to the number of stagnant ponds and ditches which are situated in the very midst of many of the towns and villages of this union, and which, in hot weather, become quite putrid and offensive from the quantity of decaying animal and vegetable matter. I have generally observed that the greater number of these fevers occur in houses situated in the immediate vicinity of these ponds, and have no doubt is the chief cause of nearly all the fevers of this description. The villages to which I more particularly refer are Egginton, Eddlesbon, Cheddington, &c.”

The sanitary effects of road cleansing, to which house drainage and road drainage is auxiliary, it appears is not confined to the streets in towns and the roads in villages, but extends over the roads at a distance from habitations on which there is traffic. Dr. Harrison, whose testimony has been cited on the subject of the analogy of the diseases of animals to those which affect the human constitution, in treating of the prevention of fever or the rot amongst sheep, warns the shepherd that, if after providing drained pasture and avoiding “rotting-places” in the fields, all his care may be frustrated if he do not avoid, with equal care, leading the sheep over wet and miry roads with stagnant ditches, which are as pernicious as the places in the fields designated as “rotting-places.” He is solicitous to impress the fact that the rot, i. e. the typhus fever, has been contracted in ten minutes, that sheep can at “any time be tainted in a quarter of an hour, while the land 89retains its moisture and the weather is hot and sultry.” He gives the following instance, amongst others, of the danger of traversing badly drained roads. “A gentleman removed 90 sheep from a considerable distance to his own residence. On coming near to a bridge, which is thrown over the Barling’s river, one of the drove fell into a ditch and fractured its leg. The shepherd immediately took it in his arms to a neighbouring house, and set the limb. During this time, which did not occupy more than one hour, the remainder were left to graze in the ditches and lane. The flock were then driven home, and a month afterwards the other sheep joined its companions. The shepherd soon discovered that all had contracted the rot, except the lame sheep; and as they were never separated on any other occasion, it is reasonable to conclude that the disorder was acquired by feeding in the road and ditch bottoms.” The precautions applicable to the sheep and cattle will be deemed equally applicable to the labouring population who traverse such roads.

Such instances as the following, on the prejudicial effects of undrained and neglected roads, might be multiplied. Mr. E. P. Turner, the medical officer of Foleshill union, in accounting for some cases of fever, states:—

“These cases of typhus all occurred in the same neighbourhood, where the road is bad and a dirty ditch of stagnant water on each side of it; the road is generally overflowed in the winter. The disease broke out in the month of October; other cases occurred in the same neighbourhood at the time.”

The nature of the more common impediments which stand in the way of the removal of the causes of disease and obstacles to production described in the preceding, are noticed in the instances following. Others will be adduced when the subject of the legislative means of prevention are stated.

Dr. Traves, on the sanitary condition of the poor in the Malton union, states,—

“The whole of the low district above alluded to, and extending into the Pickering union, (known by the name of the Marishes, or Marshes,) has at different times within the last few years been the seat of typhus and other fevers.

“Attempts were made by some of the landed proprietors a few years ago to effect a system of drainage and embankments likely to prevent the inundations of these rivers in wet seasons, but the attempt was abandoned in consequence of the reluctance of certain townships to bear their portion of the necessary outlay, and any partial system of embankment is positively injurious, inasmuch as the water that is let in upon the land at a higher point of the river is prevented returning into the stream again by an embankment at a lower point, so that this water, containing vegetable matters in a state of decomposition, must remain stagnant until evaporated by the sun’s rays, or dissipated by the wind; cases of fever occurring under these circumstances have repeatedly come under my observation, as well as that of other medical men familiar with 90the district, and this fruitful source of disease (in seasons like 1839 more especially) will probably now remain in full force until an Act of the legislature shall effect a change.”

Mr. Thomas Marjoribanks, the minister of Lochmaben,—

“No means of any consequence, so far as I am aware, have yet been tried to remedy the evil, the removal of such substances as generate malaria. There are no scavengers appointed for the removal of nuisances. One great mean of preventing the generation of malaria (in my opinion) would be the lowering of the bed of the river Annan, which would to a great extent free the surrounding lands of stagnant water, give greater facilities for draining, improve the system of farming, lessen the risk of damage, and increase the quantity as well as improve the quality of the food which the low lands produce, and in every way conduce to the comfort and cleanliness of the inhabitants. It is computed that in consequence of the flooding of the Annan, damage during the last four years has been done to the amount of 6,000l., and this along only about three miles of its course. The property is very much subdivided, and, in consequence, poverty and want has increased to a great extent among the small proprietors.”

In closing this exposition of the state of the chief external evils that affect the sanitary condition of the labouring population, it may be observed that the experience, on which the conclusions rest as to the principles of prevention is neither recent nor confined to this country. That which is new, is the advantages we possess beyond other times, and perhaps beyond all other countries, in capital and practical science for its application. The experience of the advantage of public sewers to the health of a town population is nearly as old as Rome itself. I may refer with M. Du Châtelet to the experience of that city, to illustrate the consequences of neglects, such as are manifest amidst large masses of the community throughout the country, and are partially displayed in the mortuary registers first cited. He gives the details from the treatise De Adventitiis Romani Cœli Qualitatibus, by the celebrated Italian physician Lancisi, who deeply studied the sanitary condition of Rome, and wrote several admirable works on the subject, which had the happy effect of inducing the pope to cleanse and drain the city:—

“The barbarians of every tribe having several times pillaged and sacked the city of Rome, the aqueducts were destroyed, and the water, spreading into the surrounding plains, formed marshes, which contributed greatly to render uninhabitable the surrounding country.

“The aqueducts existing no longer, the sewers and privies were alike neglected, and produced serious and frequent sicknesses, which were more effectual in destroying the population than the arms of the barbarians. All the historians of these remote times, and particularly St. Gregory, in his Homilies, and the deacon John, in the Life of that saint, give a frightful picture of the city of Rome. The air became so vitiated that plagues and fevers of a malignant character continually carried on their ravages to such a point that Peter Damien, writing in the eleventh century to Pope Nicholas II., to intreat him to accept his 91resignation, alleged as the pretext the danger he ran every instant of losing his life by remaining in the town.

“It was principally during the abode of the popes at Avignon that all which regards health was neglected at Rome, and some historians have not hesitated to attribute to this negligence the depopulation of the town, which was reduced in a little time to 30,000 inhabitants.

“Things remained in this state to the end of the fourteenth century, an epoch at which the popes, resuming the ancient labours, restored things to their proper condition; a new title to glory of Leo X., who of all the popes was the one who occupied himself with this important object in the most especial manner.

“It is, in part, to these precautions that we are to attribute the rapid increase of the population of Rome, which, from 30,000 souls, reached in a short time to 80,000; and it is a thing worthy of our attention that after the death of this pontiff the population quickly fell to the number of 32,000, because, according to the contemporary authors, everything having been neglected, the first calamities were renewed.

“Happily for Rome this state of things did not continue long, because all successive popes, instructed, it appears, by the experience of ancient times, having carried on immense labours, and constructed fresh sewers, have given to the air of this city the necessary purity.”

Italy presents instances, though comparatively modern, of the removal of disease by land drainage:—

“At Vareggio,” observes M. Villermé, “in the principality of Lucca, the inhabitants, few in number, barbarous, and miserable, were annually, from time immemorial, attacked about the same period with agues; but in 1741 flood-gates were constructed, which permitted the escape into the sea of the waters from the marshes, preventing at the same time the ingress of the ocean to these marshes both from tides and storms. This contrivance, which permanently suppressed the marsh, also expelled the fevers. In short, the canton of Vareggio is at the present day one of the healthiest, most industrious, and richest on the coast of Tuscany; and a part of those families whose boorish ancestors sunk under the epidemics of the aria cativa, without knowledge to protect themselves, enjoy a health, a vigour, a longevity, and a moral character unknown to their ancestors.”

The histories of other cities, and particularly of Paris, afford illustrations of the effects of the neglect of public cleansing, which begin in the ignorance and carelessness of the superior officers, and continue in the predominance of ignorance and obscure interests of a multitude in the present day:—

“For several years the suppression of an enormous cesspool at Paris near the Barrière des Fourneaux was implored by the inhabitants. Placed under the predominant winds, it was a permanent cause of annoyance to the quarters of St. Germain and St. Jacques. But all petitions were in vain. A singular occurrence brought about the event for which the people had prayed more than 50 years. In a hunting party, the Prince of Conde was carried by a fiery horse towards this same cesspool; finding it impossible to turn the animal, the prince had the presence of mind to throw himself on the ground, but the horse darted 92forward into the cesspool and disappeared. The next day an order was issued from Versailles, enjoining M. Lenoir, the lieutenant of police, to fill up the cesspool, which was accordingly done.”

A particular evil had attracted the attention of an able minister, who had recourse to the expedient which we have seen recently re-discovered and introduced into practice into one section of the sewerage of London:—

“The great sewer of Montmartre being uncovered, and the fall exceedingly small, it was easily choked, and spread infection through all the neighbourhood. Turgot thought that the best method to obtain a ready flow for the muddy waters it received was to wash it by frequent currents. A vast reservoir, capable of containing about 22,000 measures of water, was in consequence established at the opening of the sewer, opposite the Rue des Filles-du-Calvaire. The waters of Belleville were conducted there, together with those of two wells dug in the vicinity. This volume of water was, on certain days, let into the main sewer by means of flood-gates, which could be opened at pleasure. The scouring of the sewer by a current of living water attracted the public attention, and produced the most happy results. Shortly the people could dwell on the confines of this ancient ditch without fear of dangerous exhalations. The quarters of the Faubourg Montmartre, of the Chaussée-d’Antin, of the Ville-l’Evêque, and of the Faubourg St. Honoré, became populated. At length the land was so valuable in these different quarters that the possessors of the banks of the sewer demanded and obtained the permission to cover it over at their own expense.”

The mode of cleansing had, however, been before proposed by another minister:—

“In the conferences which were held in 1666 and 1667 at the house of the Chancellor Seguier respecting the grand police of the kingdom, a thorough examination was made of the sewers of Paris, which began to multiply. The minutes of these sittings still exist. We see there the opinions given on the subject by each of the members of the commission, and particularly by Colbert, who in the sitting of the 13th of January, proposed, as the best method of cleansing the sewers, to establish several fountains in the quarters where they were necessary, and at the side of each of them a reservoir of 15 measures, which should be let out all at once. Nothing, assuredly, could be better than this proposition. But one thing was wanting to the minister—the water could not be procured.”

But the water, though abundant in the vicinity of Paris, is still wanted, and the cause of the want is thus noticed by M. Du Châtelet:—

“Paris possesses an immense mass of water, which can be distributed into every quarter and every house. Does the demand multiply with the pipes? Assuredly not, and one might well be surprised to see the negligence and apathy of proprietors in this respect. Some persons adduce the fact to prove that seven litres[12] of water are sufficient for the inhabitants of Paris, whilst sixty are necessary for 93London, and still more for Edinburgh. But if we look closer to the conduct of the proprietors, we shall find that it proceeds from calculations well understood. It is the certainty that they will have sooner to empty the cesspools which scares them. This operation, and the expense it often brings with it, influences the venal propensities of the proprietors. Is it likely that they will pay for water of which the inevitable result will be to multiply the number of operations they dread the most, and which increase the expense in an enormous proportion? Thus the actual state of our cesspools, and the mode of emptying them now in use, are, in our opinion, the principal causes which prevent individuals from taking the water, and which retard the period in which the city will receive the interest of the enormous sums that it has devoted, and still devotes daily, to the supply of water.”

It is to be hoped, however, that the legislature will give the powers and direct the means requisite in this country, to furnish to every city in Europe a practical demonstration that by the art of the engineer, the obstacle to improvement, formed by the great expense and annoyance of removing the refuse of houses and streets may be rendered inconsiderable. In Paris the interests of turbulent bodies of men, the water-carriers, and another class of men called the chiffonniers, who live by raking for what they can find amongst the refuse cast into the streets, are opposed to any change which will reduce the charge of imperfect cleansing, and the disease promoted by filth. The general practice in that metropolis is to cast all the rubbish of the house into the street on the overnight, or before seven o’clock in the morning, when men attend with carts to sweep it up and remove it. In the nighttime, however, the chiffonnier comes with a lantern and rakes amongst the refuse, and picks from it bones, rags, or whatever may have been thrown away by accident, or the carelessness of the servants. The offensive filth of their persons and their occupation, makes them outcasts from other classes of workmen; they sleep amidst their collections of refuse, and they are idle during the day; they are like all men who live under such circumstances, prone to indulgence in ardent spirits; being degraded and savage, they are ready to throw away their wretched lives on every occasion. There are nearly 2000 of the chiffonniers alone in Paris, and they and the water-carriers were conspicuous actors in the revolution of 1830. During the administration of Casimir Perrier the householders had complained of the inconvenient mode of cleansing the streets by large heavy carts drawn by three horses, which, during their slow progress throughout the day, obstruct the public thoroughfares and occasion great inconveniences, especially in the narrow streets.

In the beginning of the year 1834, when the cholera broke out, the attention of the authorities was directed to sanitary measures, and the municipality decided that the cleansing of the streets should be done by contract, by a quick relay of carts of a smaller 94and more convenient shape, drawn by single horses; and in order to diminish the inconvenience of the presence of these improved vehicles, the contractor was allowed to collect one load for each of his carts on the overnight, which would have led to a practice similar to that of London, where the dust-carts take the refuse direct from the house without any deposit in the streets. But in this arrangement an important interest had been overlooked; the chiffonniers, who were said to have been aided and directed by the owners and men belonging to the superseded vehicles, rose in revolt, attacked and drove away the conductors, broke to pieces the new carts, threw the fragments into the river, or made bonfires with them. Unfortunately at that time the cholera had broken out at Paris. The mobs of chiffonniers which collected on the following day were swollen by other crowds of ignorant, terrified, and savage people, who were persuaded that the deaths from the strange plague were occasioned by poison. “My agents,” says the then prefet of police, in an account of this revolt, “could not be at all points at once, to oppose the fury of those crowds of men with naked arms and haggard figures, and sinister looks, who are never seen in ordinary times, and who seemed on this day to have arisen out of the earth. Wishing to judge myself of the foundation for the alarming reports that were brought to me, I went out alone and on foot. I had great difficulty in getting through these dense masses, scarcely covered with filthy rags; no description could convey their hideous aspect, or the sensation of terror which the hoarse and ferocious cries created. Although I am not easily moved, I at one time feared for the safety of Paris—of honest people and their property.” In fact the riot was one of the most dangerous that had been witnessed in that city, and it was not suppressed without great exertions and some loss of life. The anxieties which it occasioned to the minister, Casimir Perrier, and his disgust at the political use made of it, were considered to have contributed to his death. He was himself attacked with the cholera, and died a few days after. Shortly before his death, when expressing his disgust, he said to the prefet, “My friend, we are harnessed to a vile carriage.” “Truly so,” replied the prefet, “and the ways are dreadfully dirty.” The material ways of the city continued as they were, the prefet seeing that the introduction of the new carts became “a motive to discontent and collision,” took upon himself to set aside the contract with the contractor, who, he states, received no other compensation for his losses than a permission which he could not use to collect the refuse during the day, and the chiffonniers continue to the present time in the exercise of their wretched vocation at the expense of the public health and cleanliness.

The course of the present inquiry shows how strongly circumstances that are governable govern the habits of the population, and in some instances appear almost to breed the species of the 95population. Conceiving it probable that the amount of filth left by defective cleansing had its corresponding description of persons, I made inquiries of the Commissioners of Metropolitan Police. From returns which they obtained from their superintendents, it appears that of the class of bone-pickers, mud-rakers, people living on the produce of dungheaps in mews, courts, yards, and bye lanes insufficient cleansed, 598 are known to the police. From an observation of the proportion of filthy children and adults who appear amidst refuse whenever there are new buildings and an unusual quantity of rubbish, and from other circumstances, I believe that, were the refuse of houses daily cast into the streets in London in the same manner as at Paris, London would soon have as large and as dangerous a population of the chiffonnier class. I am informed by Sir Charles Shaw, the chief commissioner of police at Manchester, that there are 302 of them known within the police jurisdiction of that town also. He complains that they have heretofore been licensed in their occupation; that, the children are pilferers, and occupy the attention of the police, and furnish a large quota to the stock of juvenile delinquents and the population of the prisons. I am informed that in Bath there are about 100 of them known; and in other towns and places I have little doubt that they would be found in like proportions, which approach the proportions of the stated numbers of chiffonniers to the population of Paris. These degraded creatures are also found amongst the inmates of the workhouses, and the close identity of their habits with those of the chiffonniers of Paris afford a striking proof of the similarity of the population produced by similarity of circumstances. They are thus described to me by an eye-witness:—

“The bone-pickers are the dirtiest of all the inmates of our workhouse; I have seen them take a bone from a dungheap, and gnaw it while reeking hot with the fermentation of decay. Bones, from which the meat had been cut raw, and which had still thin strips of flesh adhering to them, they scraped carefully with their knives, and put the bits, no matter how befouled with dirt, into a wallet or pocket appropriated to the purpose. They have told me, that whether in broth or grilled, they were the most savoury dish that could be imagined. I have not observed that these creatures were savage, but they were thoroughly debased. Often hardly human in appearance, they had neither human tastes nor sympathies, nor even human sensations, for they revelled in the filth which is grateful to dogs, and other lower animals, and which to our apprehension is redolent only of nausea and abomination.”

The following report from one of the superintendents to the Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police describes the manner in which they appear to the police, their moral character, and the efficacy of the means of prevention:—

“With reference to the question of the Commissioners as to the means of subsistence of that portion of the population which at present exists by picking bones in the bye-lanes, &c., in the event of those places being properly cleansed, I am of opinion that they would be compelled to adopt 96some more laborious and useful means of obtaining a livelihood, such as field labour, &c. They are at present an idle, dissolute class, prowling about the stables, yards, backs of premises, and lanes, willing to commit petty felony wherever opportunity presents itself. While it would remove them, on the other hand, the instant removal of filth from the metropolis must prove beneficial to the health of the inhabitants.”

It will then be found to be an ultimately beneficial effect of the removal of the circumstances by the adoption of such modes of cleansing as diminish the prevalent amount of filth or filthy processes, that it will force a change to other occupations of a less degrading character, and diminish the number of persons “brought up” to them. Any provision of the nature of a poor law may be said to be badly constructed which does not allow the exercise of a discretionary authority to alleviate any severe inconveniences to the poorest classes from such changes. For the sake of preventing the growth of the like misery, it would probably be found a good civic economy to maintain the whole of the existing class in idleness, if idleness were not in itself a curse to them. I mention this, because the parish officers frequently oppose improved modes of paving and efficient cleansing, (as they generally opposed the new police on the ground that it diminished the means of subsistence of decrepit old men as watchmen,) for the avowed reason that it is expedient to keep the streets in their present state of filth in order to keep up the means of employing indigent persons as street-sweepers and sweepers of crossings in removing it.

It is found in the metropolis to be a beneficial result of the increase of the practice of removing night-soil by the self-acting process of water-closets communicating with the sewers, that it prevents the increase of the number of nightmen formerly requisite for the performance of that offensive and dangerous labour, and is in the metropolis diminishing the number.

Yet it should be borne in mind, that until more complete measures are adopted, even the services of such agents are an improvement, and in crowded cities are only neglected at the expense of the degradation of the whole mass of the labouring population. An example is to be found in the state of some districts mentioned by Dr. Speer, who in his account of the diseases of the lower orders in Dublin, given in the Dublin Hospital Reports, noticed the fact that the fever cases always came from the filthy districts; and he observes,

“We cannot wonder at the rapidity with which contagion often spreads. Both in and out of doors, it seems facilitated in every way; within doors every article of furniture and wearing apparel is disfigured with filth; every spot seems encrusted with its layers, and the foulest odours abound everywhere. Out of doors, at least in warm seasons, our churchyards, slaughter-houses, and the masses of filth and offal with which our streets and lanes are disgraced, contribute no less to the propagation of contagion. In the larger and better streets, the cleansing 97is very well attended to, but in the narrow and crowded ones, where the necessity of its removal is infinitely greater, the heaps of filth are truly disgraceful. In some of my visits I have been obliged to wade through masses of filth enough to sicken the stoutest and strongest—masses which have remained undisturbed for months, perhaps for years, and thus generating the most putrid effluvia. We know that vegetables are very dear in our markets. Why? Because our gardens are not sufficiently manured; this manure lies in our lanes and alleys, and only wants collecting; but what would this be compared with the benefits from the purification of our atmosphere which its removal would produce?”

The condition of large rural districts in the immediate vicinity of the towns, and of the poorest districts of the towns themselves, presents a singular contrast in the nature of the agencies by which the health of the inhabitants is impaired. Within the towns we find the houses and streets filthy, the air fœtid, disease, typhus, and other epidemics rife amongst the population, bringing, in the train, destitution and the need of pecuniary as well as medical relief; all mainly arising from the presence of the richest materials of production, the complete absence of which would, in a great measure, restore health, avert the recurrence of disease, and, if properly applied, would promote abundance, cheapen food, and increase the demand for beneficial labour. Outside the afflicted districts, and at a short distance from them, as in the adjacent rural districts, we find the aspect of the country poor and thinly clad with vegetation, except rushes and plants favoured by a superabundance of moisture, the crops meagre, the labouring agricultural population few, and afflicted with rheumatism and other maladies, arising from damp and an excess of water, which, if removed, would relieve them from a cause of disease, the land from an impediment to production, and if conveyed for the use of the town population, would give that population the element of which they stand in peculiar need, as a means to relieve them from that which is their own cause of depression, and return it for use on the land as a means of the highest fertility. The fact of the existence of these evils, and that they are removable is not more certain than that their removal would be attended by reductions of existing burdens, and might be rendered productive of general advantage, if due means, guided by science, and applied by properly qualified officers, be resorted to. The impediments arising from the existing state of the law and of its local administration, form a subject for separate representation.

Before stating the cost in life and money attributable to the noxious causes external to the dwelling, it is desirable to notice other noxious causes, within the recognised province of legislative interference, that appear to be similarly under control, namely, the overcrowding of places where large numbers are assembled together, such as the overcrowding of places of work.



The evils arising from the bad ventilation of places of work will probably be most distinctly brought to view, by the consideration of the evidence as to its effects on one particular class of workpeople.

The frequency of cases of early deaths, and orphanage, and widowhood amongst one class of labourers, the journeymen tailors, led me to make some inquiries as to the causes affecting them; and I submit the following evidence for peculiar consideration, as an illustration of the operation of one predominant cause;—bad ventilation or overcrowding, and the consequences on the moral habits, the loss of healthful existence and happiness to the labourer, the loss of profit to the employer, and of produce to the community, and the loss in expenditure for the relief of the destitution, which original cause (the bad ventilation) we have high scientific authority for stating to be easily and economically controllable.

Mr. Thomas Brownlow, tailor, aged 52:—

“It is stated that you have been a journeyman tailor, and now work for yourself. At what description of places have you worked?—I have always worked at the largest places in London; one part of my time I worked at Messrs Allen’s, of Old Bond-street, where I worked eight years; at another part of my time I worked at Messrs. Stultze’s, in Clifford-street, where I worked four years. At Messrs. Allen’s they had then from 80 to 100 men at work; at Messrs. Stultze’s they had, when I worked there, about 250 men.

“Will you describe the places of work, and the effects manifested in the health of the workmen?—The place in which we used to work at Messrs. Allen’s was a room where 80 men worked together. It was a room about 16 or 18 yards long, and 7 or 8 yards wide, lighted with skylights; the men were close together, nearly knee to knee. In summer time the heat of the men and the heat of the irons made the room 20 or 30 degrees higher than the heat outside; the heat was then most suffocating, especially after the candles were lighted. I have known young men, tailors from the country, faint away in the shop from the excessive heat and closeness; persons, working-men, coming into the shop to see some of the men, used to complain of the heat, and also of the smell as intolerable; the smell occasioned by the heat of the irons and the various breaths of the men really was at times intolerable. The men sat as loosely as they possibly could, and the perspiration ran from them from the heat and the closeness. It is of frequent occurrence in such workshops that light suits of clothes are spoiled from the perspiration of the hand, and the dust and flue which arises darkening the work. I have seen 40l. or 50l. worth of work spoiled in the course of the summer season from this cause.

“In what condition are these work-places in winter?—They are more unhealthy in winter, as the heat from the candles and the closeness is 99much greater. Any cold currents of air which come in give annoyance to those who are sitting near the draught. There is continued squabbling as to the windows being opened; those who are near the windows, and who do not feel the heat so much as the men near the stoves, objecting to their being opened. The oldest, who had been inured to the heat, did not like the cold, and generally prevailed in keeping out the cold or the fresh air. Such has been the state of the atmosphere, that in the very coldest nights large thick tallow candles (quarter of a pound candles) have melted and fallen over from the heat.

“What was the effect of this state of the work-places upon the habits of the workmen?—It had a very depressing effect on the energies; that was the general complaint of those who came into it. Many could not stay out the hours, and went away earlier. Those who were not accustomed to the places generally lost appetite. The natural effect of the depression was, that we had recourse to drink as a stimulant. We went into the shop at six o’clock in the morning; but at seven o’clock when orders for the breakfast were called for, gin was brought in, and the common allowance was half-a-quartern. The younger hands did not begin with gin.

“Was gin the first thing taken before any solid food was taken?—Yes, and the breakfast was very light; those who took gin generally took only half-a-pint of tea and half a twopenny loaf as breakfast.

“When again was liquor brought in?—At eleven o’clock.

“What was taken then?—Some took beer, some took gin again. In a general way, they took a pint of porter at eleven o’clock. It was seldom the men took more than the half-quartern of gin.

“When again was liquor brought in?—At three o’clock, when some took beer and some gin, just the same as in the morning. At five o’clock the beer and gin came in again, and was usually taken in the same quantities. At seven o’clock the shop was closed.

“After work was there any drinking?—Yes; nearly all the young men went to the public-house, and some of the others.

“What were the wages they received?—Sixpence per hour, which, at the full work, made 6s. a-day, or 36s. a-week.

“Did they make any reserves from this amount of wages?—No; very few had anything for themselves at the end of the week.

“How much of the habit of drinking was produced by the state of the work-place?—I should say the greater part of it; because when men work by themselves, or only two or three together, in cooler and less close places, there is scarcely any drinking between times. Nearly all this drinking proceeds from the large shops, where the men are crowded together in close rooms: it is the same in the shops in the country, as well as those in the town. In a rural place, the tailor, where he works by himself, or with only two or three together, takes very little of the fermented liquor or spirits which the men feel themselves under a sort of necessity for doing in towns. The closer the ventilation of the place of work, the worse are the habits of the men working in them.

“You referred to the practice of one large shop where you worked some time since; was that the general practice, and has there been no alteration?—It was and is now the general practice. Of late, since coffee has become cheaper, somewhat more of coffee and less of beer has been 100bought in; but there is as much gin now brought in between times, and sometimes more.

“What would be the effect of an alteration of the place of work—a ventilation which would give them a better atmosphere?—It would, without doubt, have an immediately beneficial effect on the habits. It might not cure those who have got into the habit of drinking; but the men would certainly drink less, and the younger ones would not be led into the habit so forcibly as they are.

“What is the general effect of this state of things upon the health of the men exposed to them?—Great numbers of them die of consumption. “A decline” is the general disease of which they die. By their own rules, a man at 50 years of age is superannuated, and is thought not to be fit to do a full day’s work.

“What was the average of the ages of the men at work at such shops as those you have worked at?—Thirty-two, or thereabouts.

“In such shops were there many superannuated men, or men above 50 years of age?—Very few. Amongst the tailors employed in the shops, I should say there were not 10 men in the hundred above 50 years of age.

“When they die, what becomes of their widows and children, as they seldom make any reserve of wages?—No provision is made for the families; nothing is heard of them, and, if they cannot provide for themselves, they must go upon the parish.

“Are these habits created by the closeness of the rooms, attended by carelessness as to their mode of living elsewhere?—I think not as to their lodgings. The English and Scotch tailors are more careful as to their places of lodging, and prefer sleeping in an open place. The men, however, who take their pint of porter and their pipe of tobacco in a public-house after their hours of work, take it at a place which is sometimes as crowded as a shop. Here the single men will stay until bedtime.

“Are gin and beer the only stimulants which you conceive are taken in consequence of the want of ventilation and the state of the place of work when crowded?—No: snuff is very much taken as a stimulant; the men think snuff has a beneficial effect on the eyes. After going into these close shops from the open air, the first sensation experienced is frequently a sensation of drowsiness, then a sort of itching or uneasiness at the eye, then a dimness of the sight. Some men of the strongest sight will complain of this dimness; all eyes are affected much in a similar manner. Snuff is much used as a stimulant to awaken them up; smoking in the shops is not approved of, though it is much attempted; and the journeymen tailors of the large shops are in general great smokers at the public-houses.

“Do the tailors from villages take snuff or smoke as well as drink so much as the tailors in the large shops in the towns?—They neither take so much snuff nor tobacco, nor so much of any of the stimulants, as are taken by the workmen in the crowded shops of the towns.

“Do their eyes fail them as soon?—No, certainly not.

“With the tailors, is it the eye that fails first?—Yes; after long hours of work the first thing complained of by the tailors is that the eyes fail; the sight becomes dim, and a sort of mist comes between them and their work.

101“Judging from your own practical experience, how long do you conceive that a man would work in a well-ventilated or uncrowded room, as compared with a close, crowded, ill-ventilated room?—I think it would make a difference of two hours in the day to a man. He would, for example, be able, in an uncrowded or well-ventilated room, to do his twelve hours’ work in the twelve hours; whereas in the close-crowded room he would not do more than ten hours’ work in the twelve.

“Of two men beginning at 20 years of age, what would be the difference in extent of labour performed by them in town shops or in the country?—A man who had begun at 20 in these crowded shops would not be so good a man at 40 as a man working to 50 in a country village; of the two, the country tailor would be in the best condition in health and strength: in point of fact he is so. The difference may be set down as a gain of 10 years’ good labour. There are very few who can stand such work as the town shops 20 years.

“The eyes then become permanently injured, as well as fail during the day, in these crowded shops?—Yes, they do. After 45 years of age, the eyes begin to fail, and he cannot do a full day’s work.

“Supposing a workman to work in a well-ventilated room, and to be freed from the nervous exhaustion consequent on the state of the place, might he not save at least all that he drinks in the times between his meals, or be enabled to apply it better, if he were so disposed; and, perhaps, the value of the two hours’ extra work in the 12, when he is working piece-work?—Yes, certainly he might.

“Taking your account of the average loss by nervous exhaustion and bad habits to be two hours’ work for 20 years, and 12 hours daily work for 10 years in addition, supposing him to be employed full time, it would be a loss of the value of 50,000 hours of productive labour (of the value at 6d. per hour, 1,250l.); or, if he were only in work half a-year, at a loss of 25,000 hours; so that if he were employed the half time at the full wages, or full time at the half wages, such workmen will have lost the means of putting by a sum of not less than 600l. to maintain him in comfort when he is no longer able to work?—Yes, I think that would be found to be correct. Very few do save; but I have known some save considerable sums. I knew one man, of the name of John Hale, who saved about 600l. He was not one of the most sober men, but he was in constant employment, sometimes at Allen’s and sometimes at Weston’s, and he was very careful; but he died when he was about 45. I knew another man, whose name was Philip Gray, who used to prefer the smaller shops. He was a man of a very good constitution, and he lived until he was about 70. He was a journeyman all his life, and he had, when he died, more than 1,500l., all saved by London journey work. He used to live in a baker’s shop in Silver-street, Golden-square.

“Was he of a penurious disposition?—He associated less with the men than others, and they knew little about him. He was dressed much the same as the rest, but he was much more clean in his person: he was remarkable for his cleanliness, and he was very neat in his person. Both he and Hale were single men.

“Can you doubt that, under favourable sanitary circumstances, such instances would become frequent?—It cannot be doubted. I have known other instances of saving, but those were not of men working on the board: they were mostly of men who had situations in the cutting-rooms.”

102Mr. John Fowler:—

“You are a tailor, are you not?—I have been all my life a journeyman tailor, and worked in the metropolis; but I have long been superannuated, and now act as collector to the Benevolent Institution for the Relief of Aged and Infirm Tailors.

“That is supported by the masters, is it not?—Yes; the journeymen tailors subscribe, but it is principally supported by masters, who subscribe to it most liberally. Mr. Stultze, for example, has subscribed 795l. in money, and is a yearly subscriber of 25 guineas. He has made a present to the institution of the ground for the erection of almshouses, worth about 1000l., and has undertaken to build six houses at his own expense, for the reception of 20 poor pensioners. The funds are about 11,000l., principally subscribed by the masters.

“Have you belonged to any other society?—I was clerk to a trade society, consisting of upwards of 500 men.

“Have you worked in the more crowded shops?—I have worked at Mr. Allen’s, and Mr. William’s, of Conduit-street, which was a shop containing about as many men as Mr. Allen’s. I have worked at other shops, not so large as Mr. Allen’s.

“Have you read Mr. Brownlow’s evidence?—Yes, I have.

“How far do the facts generally coincide with your own observations?—Generally they do. I agree with him as to the effects of work in close workshops, and as to the time a man would last as a workman, under the most favourable circumstances, in a well-ventilated place. I do not think the drinking of gin was general, to the extent he mentions; and I think the improvement as to drinking beer, as well as spirits, is now very great; particularly in spirits, since tea and coffee have been so much drank. Of late, as far as my knowledge extends, there is very little beer-drinking in the afternoon. I knew the individuals he mentions as having saved money, and I have known many others do so too. Some of them have become opulent and respectable masters, who were fellow-shopmen with me. I conceive that the establishment of coffee-shops has been of great benefit to the health and morals of the men: it has taken them from the public-house. I have known a very large proportion of men carried off young, and in middle life, by consumption; but, in general, irregular habits were mixed up with the effects of the work in close places. The crowding of the large shops must be considered as occurring only in the season.”

The following is the examination of a tailor in Marlborough, taken by Mr. Grainger:—

Charles Dobson, 58 years old,—

“Has been a tailor since he was 16 years old. Has always lived in the country. Has two sons journeymen tailors, who have been employed in London, one seven and the other five years. Formerly employed seven or eight men, who worked with witness in a shop which was very close, so that if there were nine men they could scarcely sit on the board. Although there was very little drinking, they were so much oppressed in the summer, and at other seasons when the candles were lighted, that he has seen the men reel after getting off the board. Used himself, when it was very warm, to feel faint. Attributes these effects to the heat of the shop, arising from the closeness, the stove, and the hot irons; also to the 103smell of the cloth and the breath of the men. Latterly has worked with lower hands and in a more open shop; finds his health better, and that he is not oppressed by the work. Has often noticed in this town, where there are a few shops containing, in the summer, 14 or 15 journeymen, that when men go into them who have previously worked in the neighbouring villages, they became pale and unhealthy-looking: attributes this to the heat. His sons have complained to him that their health suffers from working in large shops in London. Has seen many who have gone to London return ‘looking far worse than when they went.’ From his experience, thinks that a man may enjoy his health in this business, if he works moderate hours and in an airy shop, where the number is small. Should consider 12 hours, allowing out of them one hour for dinner, moderate: these are the common hours in this part of the country. Has known many men who have worked in the neighbouring villages; they are generally quite as healthy as other people, ‘does not see any difference.’ They are more strong and not so chilly as those who work in shops. Has known many upwards of 50, who were quite able to go on with the work; they are only obliged to give it up from failure of sight as they advance in age: ‘from nothing else.’ Knew one man in this town who went on till he was 77. Has himself good health.”

I have collected the evidence of several master tailors on the effects of work in crowded or bad ventilated rooms. Some are inclined to ascribe more of the ill health to the habits of the journeymen in drinking at public-houses, and to the state of their private dwellings, but in the main results the loss of daily power—i. e., the loss of at least one-third the industrial capabilities enjoyed by men working under advantageous circumstances—the nervous exhaustion attendant on work in crowds, and the consequent temptation to resort continually to stimulants, which in their turn increase the exhaustion, are fully proved, and indeed generally admitted. I have caused the mortuary registers to be examined, but find that they do not distinguish the masters from the journeymen, and that there are no ready means of distinguishing those of the deceased who have been employed in the larger shops. It is also stated that many who come to work in town and become diseased, return and die in the villages. But in the registered causes of death of 233 persons entered during the year 1839 in the eastern and western Unions of the metropolis, under the general head “tailor,” no less than 123 are registered as having died of disease of the respiratory organs, of whom 92 died of consumption;[13] 16 of diseases of the nervous system, of 104whom 8 died of apoplexy; 16 of epidemic or contagious diseases, of whom 11 died of typhus; 23 are registered as having died of diseases of “uncertain seat,” of whom 13 fell victims of dropsy; 8 died of diseases of the digestive organs, and six of “heart disease;” and of the whole number of 233 only 29 of old age; and of these, if they could be traced, we may pronounce confidently that the greater proportion of them would be found to be not journeymen, of whom not two or three per cent. attain old age, but masters. On comparing the mortuary registers in the metropolis with the registers in north-western and the south-western parts of England, where we may expect a larger proportion of men working separately, I find that whilst 53 per cent. of the men die of diseases of the respiratory organs in the metropolis, only 39 per cent. die of these diseases in the remote districts; that whilst five per cent. die. of typhus in London, only one per cent. fall victims to it in the country; that whilst in London only 12 in the hundred attain old age, 25 in the hundred are registered as having attained it in the remote districts.

It is due to Messrs. Stultze, the employers mentioned by the first witness, to state, that since he worked with them they have made considerable alterations with the view to increase the ventilation 105of their workshops, and have expressed their desire to adopt whatever improvements may be pointed out to them.

I have been informed, that some tailors’ workshops at Glasgow have been carefully ventilated, and that the immediate results are as satisfactory as were anticipated, but the change has been too recent to permit any estimate of the effects on the general habits of the workmen.

The preceding case may serve as a general instance of the practical difference of the effects in the saving of suffering as well as of expense, by active benevolence exerted with foresight in measures of prevention, as compared with benevolence exerted in measures of alleviation of disease after it has occurred.

The subscriptions to the benevolent institution for the relief of the aged and infirm tailors, by individual masters in the metropolis, appear to be large and liberal, and amount to upwards of 11,000l.; yet it is to be observed, that if they or the men had been aware of the effects of vitiated atmospheres on the constitution and general strength, and of the means of ventilation, the practicable gain of money from the gain of labour by that sanitary measure could not have been less in one large shop, employing 200 men, than 100,000l. Independently of subscriptions of the whole trade, it would, during their working period of life, have been sufficient, with the enjoyment of greater health and comfort by every workman during the time of work, to have purchased him an annuity of 1l. per week for comfortable and respectable self-support during a period of superannuation, commencing soon after fifty years of age.

Of that which in these instances appear to be the main cause of premature disease and death, defective ventilation, it is to be remarked that until very lately little had been observed or understood, even by professional men or men of science; and that it is only when the public health is made a matter of public care by a responsible public agency that, what is understood can be expected to be generally and effectually applied for the public protection. Vitiated air not being seen, and air which is pure in winter being cold, the cold is felt and the air is excluded by the workmen. The great desideratum hitherto has been to obtain a circulation of air which was warm, as well as fresh. This desideratum has been attained, after much trial, in the House of Commons; but there is reason to believe that, by various means, at an expense within the reach certainly of large places of work, a ventilation equally good might be secured with mutual advantage.

The effects of bad ventilation, it need not be pointed out, are chiefly manifested in consumption, the disease by which the greatest slaughter is committed. The causes of fever are comparatively few and prominent, but they appear to have a concurrent effect in producing consumption. The investigation of the whole of the contributary causes to the production of the immense mass of 106mortality occasioned by that disease, would be beyond the time or means allowed for the present inquiry; but defective ventilation and defective management in respect to changes of temperature, are causes everywhere apparent amongst the labouring classes. The effects of good ventilation, as a single cause of the prevention or alleviation of disease, are nowhere so clearly manifest as in their effects on hospital treatment. What Dr. Bisset Hawkins states in respect to the sanitary measures necessary to ensure successful treatment in hospitals, may be stated in respect to common dwellings as well as places of work.

“Next to the influence of national causes, the mortality of hospitals is most affected by position and internal economy. These circumstances appear more powerful than even the various merits of practice; and, happily for mankind, they are advantages of a definite nature, easily comprehended, and, of late years, generally demanded. The case was formerly very different, when a singular prejudice or indifference existed in respect to ventilation. At the Leeds hospital no case of compound fracture, nor of trepan, survived. At the Hôtel Dieu, of Paris, compound fractures were also almost always fatal, and few survived amputation. The system which will bear improper air with impunity during health becomes keenly susceptible of its mischief when diseased, and a change of air will often restore where the strictest diet has failed. Mortality is seldom to be assigned to the influence of bad practice, which, probably, does not often destroy life. An accomplished friend made particular notes on the comparative mortality under three physicians in the same hospital; one was expectant, one tonic, and the other eclectic. The mortality was the same, but the length of the disorder, the character of the convalescence, and the chances of relapse were very different.

“The earliest statement which we possess of the mortality of our hospitals is in Sir William Petty’s work on Political Arithmetic, from which it appears, that in the year 1685 the proportion of the deaths to the cures in St. Bartholomew’s and St. Thomas’s hospitals was about 1 to 7. The annual printed report of St. Thomas’s hospital for 1689 is still preserved: the mortality was then about 1 in 10. During the ten years from 1773 to 1783, the mortality at St Thomas’s became still smaller, it was 1 in 14. About the year 1783, some improvements were made with respect to cleanliness and ventilation, and during the ten subsequent years the annual deaths were accordingly still fewer than before, less than 1 in 15. During the ten years intervening between 1803 and 1813 the improvement continued, and the proportion fell to only 1 in 16. The average during the 50 years from 1764 to 1813 was remarkably small, only 1 in 15.”

Parent Du Chátelet notices in the following terms the diminution in the mortality of the Hôtel Dieu from better ventilation:—

“The mortality has diminished in the Hôtel Dieu in remarkable proportions. Without saying anything of the enlargement of the windows, of the warm clothing, of a better system of heating the apartments, are we to count for nothing the destruction of all the high houses which surrounded the Hôtel Dieu on every side? In our opinion the 107pure and dry air which circulates now in every part, the sun which penetrates there, the stoves which have been erected, have as much contributed to its healthiness as the suppression of the amphitheatres of anatomy which were in its neighbourhood.”

The reports of other hospitals present similar and generally corroborative experience. In the space of four years, ending in 1784, in a badly-ventilated house, the Lying-in Hospital in Dublin, there died 2,944 children out of 7,650; but after freer ventilation, the deaths in the same period of time, and in a like number of children, amounted only to 279.

One effect of the attention given to the condition of the workers in the factories has been, that ventilation has been extensively introduced, and with marked effects, on the condition of the workpeople. When I was at Glasgow a striking instance was pointed out to me of the beneficial effects of ventilation when applied to the dwellings of the working classes connected with such establishments. I was informed there was in that city an assemblage of dwellings for their workpeople, called, from its mode of construction and the crowd collected in it, the Barracks. This building contained 500 persons; every room contained one family. The consequences of this crowding of the apartments, which were badly ventilated, and the filth were, that fever was scarcely ever absent from the building. There were sometimes as many as seven cases in one day, and in the last two months of 1831 there were 57 cases in the building. All attempts to induce the inmates to ventilate their rooms were ineffectual, and the proprietors of the work, on the recommendation of Mr. Fleming, a surgeon of the district, fixed a simple tin tube of two inches in diameter, into the ceiling of each room, and these tubes led into one general tube, the extremity of which was inserted into the chimney of the factory furnace. By the perpetual draught thus produced upon the atmosphere of each room the inmates were compelled, whether they would or not, to breathe pure air. The effect was that, during the ensuing eight years, fever was scarcely known in the place. The process was apparently defective only in not providing for the appropriate warmth of the air introduced. The cost of remedies previously applied in the public hospitals to the fever cases, continually produced as described in the barracks, were stated by Dr. Cowan to have afforded a striking contrast to the cost of the means of prevention.

Similar defective ventilation and overcrowding in rooms of work, with the addition of the deterioration of the air by the use of candles or gas-lamps at night-work, produce similar effects on the milliners and dressmakers employed at the larger workshops of the metropolis. In a return of the causes of death to the milliners and dressmakers who died during the year 1839, in the unions of the metropolis, in which we have no means of distinguishing 108those who worked separately or in small numbers, the results were as follows:—

Tabular Statement of Deaths from Disease of Milliners and Dressmakers, in the Metropolitan Unions during the year 1839, as shown by the Mortuary Registers.
Age. Number of Deaths. Average Age. Number of Deaths from Consumption. Average Age. Number of Deaths from other Lung Diseases. Average Age.
Under 20 6 17 4 18    
20 Under 30 24 24 17 23 1 23
30 Under 40 11 34 6 34 1 33
40 Under 50 2 45     1 40
50 Under 60 4 54 1 58 2 55
60 Under 70 5 64        
Total 52 32 28 26 5 41
Out of 52 deaths in the year, 41 of the deceased attained an age of 25. The average age of the 33 who died of lung diseases was 28.

It is not doubted by medical witnesses that in this class of cases, as in the case of the tailors, one-third at least of the healthful duration of adult life will be found to have been destroyed by the ignorance of the want of ventilation.

Unhappily, this fatal ignorance as to the requisites of the places of work is as frequently manifested in the overcrowded places of repose. I take an illustration from the answers of Mr. Isaac Gilchrist, surgeon of Aberdeen, to the question as to the causes of fever:—

“In answering this query, the circumstance that calls for most remark in reference to this district is the overcrowded state of dwelling apartments. Six, eight, and even ten occupying one room is anything but uncommon; and these, too, it frequently happens, are lone women, all employed at the manufactories during the day and huddled together during the night. Fever finding its way into any of these apartments, seldom quits it until every member has been attacked. In some instances of families of eight or ten members, not one individual has escaped the disease. I believe also that deficient cleanliness (to a certain extent the result of poverty) and bad ventilation co-operate with the overcrowded state of the apartments in propagating fever.”

Similar information is frequent from the metropolis and other districts. It is understood, and it may confidently be expected, that the Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners appointed to investigate the employment of young persons employed in large numbers in other manufactures than those now included in the provisions of the Factory Act will investigate more closely than has hitherto been done the sanitary condition 109of the labourers employed in the mines as well as in other branches of industry. I take the following evidence respecting the condition of the lodging-shops, obtained by Dr. Mitchell, one of the Assistant Commissioners, in the course of his inquiries into the condition of the labouring population engaged in working the mines in Durham and Northumberland. He gives the following description of their sleeping places:—

“Many of the miners, including young persons and boys, will go three miles and upwards from their own homes in the morning to work in the mines, or to wash the ore, and return again after their work at night. Some miners, who are too far off to be able to go and come in this way, find lodgings for the four nights in the week, and the washers for five nights, at some houses not too far from the mines. The usual price is 6d. a-week each, for which sum there is a bed between two of them, leave to make their ‘crowdy’ on the fire in the morning, and they have their potatoes boiled for them in the evening. They bring their provisions in a wallet on the Monday mornings: the miners go back on the Friday, and the washers of ore on the Saturday. But there are many mines, and some of them very large, in remote situations in the Fells, far away from all dwelling-houses, where lodgings might be had, and the proprietors have erected for their miners and washers buildings called ‘lodging-shops,’ which I now am about to describe:—

“The first one of them which I visited was about nine miles across the Fell, south from Stanhope. It was a plain building, constructed of sandstone, covered with a coarse slate; and all very substantial. There was no opening or window at either end, nor at the back, nor on the roof. On the front or south side was a door towards the west end, and two windows, one a little above the other. On entering the door, it was seen that the lower part was one room, lighted by one of the windows, and had a great fire burning at the east end. By pacing the floor the length was ascertained to be about 18 feet, and the breadth about 15 feet. Along the one side, that next the window, was a deal table, extending the whole length of the room, and alongside of it was a form, and there were two other forms in the room. All along the other side on the wall were little cupboards, 48 in number, in four tiers above each other; six of the cupboards with the doors off, but the most of the rest carefully locked with padlocks, and in which the several miners had deposited their wallets with their provisions for five days. Throughout the room, more particularly at the end furthest from the fire, were hung from hooks and nails in the joists, miners’ trousers and jackets to be put on in case of the owners returning wet from their work.

“In addition to the articles already named were the following:—

“One earthen pitcher to fetch water; one tea-kettle; one pan for boiling potatoes; two pans for frying bacon; iron fender, a poker, and shovel; a besom.

“There was a large box in the room secured by a padlock, said to contain the clothes which the masters put on when they come to see the mines.

“On ascending to the upper room by a ladder, it was seen to be a sleeping-room. The dimensions of the floor were of course the same as of the room below. There was no fire-place, which indeed was not 110wanted, but neither was there any opening into a chimney to produce circulation of air. Along one side of the room were three beds, each six feet long by about four feet and a-half wide, the three beds extending the length of the room; then there were three other beds on the other side, and at the furthest end was a seventh bed extending from the one line of beds to the other. Immediately over these seven beds, and supported on posts, were seven other beds placed exactly in the same way. Of course the person who slept in each of the six beds of the upper tier next the wall could raise his head only a very little way on account of the roof. Each of these 14 beds was intended for two persons, when only few men were employed at the mines, but they might be made to receive three men each, and, in case of need, a boy might lie across at their feet. There was no opening of any sort to let out the foul air, yet from 39 to 40 persons might have slept there, the men perspiring from their work and inhaling the small dust from their clothes floating in clouds. The beds were stuffed with chaff. There were blankets but no sheets. The furniture of the lodging-shops is supplied by the masters. The beds and blankets are supplied by the miners themselves. They are taken home sometimes to be washed. On Friday, when the miners leave, the beds are rolled up to prevent damp. I visited the lodging-shop on Monday morning. The beds had not been slept in for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights preceding, yet was the smell most noxious. There was one excellent thing connected with this lodging-shop: there was a small but beautiful stream of water which was conducted across the Fell to this spot, and came through an iron pipe near the door, so that the men had an abundant supply of the pure element. I next went to see another lodging-shop on a larger scale. On the ground-floor were five rooms. The first is a blacksmith’s shop. Next to it is the cooking and eating-room of the washers of ore; from 20 to 30 men and boys, if so many, were employed. It was locked up, and I did not see it. The upper room, extended over the blacksmith’s shop and the cooking room, is the sleeping-room of the washers, men and boys. The next room on the ground-floor is a cooking and eating-room of the miners, exactly like the room of the lodging-shop already described. Adjoining to it is a room in which they hang up their wet clothes. At the end is a stable for the horses which are employed to draw the waggons with ore from the pits. By a ladder close to the wall between the cooking-room and drying-room is an ascent to a room exactly like that in the lodging-house already described, with the same number of beds. One little pipe of about two inches diameter was the only communication with the exterior air. Through the partition wall is an opening into a bed-room, extending over the drying-room and the stable. Across this room extended two beds, leaving a space for passing. Above these two was a tier of other two beds: then at a short interval was a second set of beds, four in number; and further on, a third set similarly arranged, four in number. Thus in the space above the cooking-room, drying-room, and stable, were 26 beds, each intended for two or three men, as it might be, and perhaps more; and the same beds for sets of miners in their turns, as one set came from their work and another went off.

“Though the beds had not been occupied for the three preceding nights, the smell was to me utterly intolerable. What the place must be in the summer nights is, happily for those who have never felt it, 111utterly inconceivable. The medical men are best able to give a judgment on these matters, but for my own part I cannot but believe that these lodging-houses are more destructive than the air of the mines. I should think it no hardship to have to remain 24 hours in a mine, but I should be terrified at being ordered to be shut up a quarter of an hour in the bed-room of a lodging-shop.

“Many miners speak of the horrors of lodging-shops of former days; but the only difference I could learn was, that at many mines there were not now so many men and boys at work, and consequently the lodging-shops were not so crowded. Some mines are not now wrought which formerly had large lodging-shops; for example, Mannergill, of which a miner stated to me that he was one of 120 who lodged in a suite of rooms there; and he declared that the nuisance was much aggravated by the great number.

“In such a dense accumulation of bodies, one man who might be ill was a disturbance to all the rest. The coughing of a few interrupted the sleep of others. Men coming from the mine at 12 o’clock at night, and frying their bacon at the fire below, sent up an odour which added to the already too suffocating smell of the sleeping-room above. The great number was an aggravation of what is intolerable at best.

“The miners showed me a tank through which running water passed, in which they had placed their bottles of milk which they had brought with them for their coffee.

“There was an excellent supply of running water of the best quality, and it was the only beverage which the men had; for they stated that there was no public-house or beer-shop nearer than seven miles, and if there were one, they durst not go into it for fear of being discharged.

“The men all said that their lodging-shop was a fair sample of all the lodging-shops in the country, the only difference being the greater or less number of men lodging in them, which would depend entirely on the state of the mine. I have, however, since seen one refinement of which these men did not seem to be aware, and that was a lodging-shop in which were not only the beds in tiers all round the room, but there also was a bed suspended or swung from the top of the room, which economically filled up a space which otherwise would have been vacant.”

The following is the account given by a miner himself of the lodging-places:—

William Eddy, one of the miners, states;—

“I went to work in Greenside four years. Our lodging-rooms were such as not to be fit for a swine to live in. In one house there was 16 bedsteads in the room up stairs, and 50 occupied these beds at the same time. We could not always get all in together, but we got in when we could. Often three at a time in the bed, and one at the foot. I have several times had to get out of bed, and sit up all night to make room for my little brothers, who were there as washers. There was not a single flag or board on the lower floor, and there were pools of water 12 inches deep. You might have taken a coal-rake and raked off the dirt and potatoe peelings six inches deep. At one time we had not a single coal. After I had been there two years, rules were laid down, and two men were appointed by the master to clean the house up stairs twice a-week. 112The lower apartment was to be cleaned twice a-day. Then the shop floor was boarded, and two tables were placed in the shop. After that two more shops were fitted up, but the increase of workmen more than kept up with the increased accommodation. The breathing at night when all were in bed was dreadful. The workmen received more harm from the sleeping-places than from the work. There was one pane of glass which we could open, but it was close to a bed-head.

“The mines at Greenside were well ventilated, and in that respect there was nothing to complain of.

“In the winter time the icicles came through the roof, and within 12 inches of the people sleeping in bed. During a thaw, water dropped plentifully into the beds. In the upper beds the person sleeping next to the wall cannot raise his head or change his shirt.”

Joseph Eddy, another workman, states:—

“I consider the lodging-shops more injurious to the health of the miners than their work itself. So many sleeping in the same room, so many breaths, so much stour arising from their working-clothes, so much perspiration from the men themselves, it is impossible to be comfortable. Two miners occupy one bed, sometimes three. The beds are shaken once a-week on the Monday morning, when the miners come. Some miners make their beds every night. The rooms are in general very dirty, being never washed, and very seldom swept, not over once a-month. There is no ventilation, so that the air is very close at night.”

It is observed of this particular class of men that they are worn out soon after forty; but a large share of this result may also be ascribed to their places of work. The following is a return of the ages of all the miners who died during one year, including those who slept at their own homes, with those who had been accustomed to sleep at the lodging-shops.

Statement of Deaths from Disease and Accidents of Miners, Colliers, and Pitmen, in the Unions of Cumberland and Westmoreland, and parts of the Counties of Lancaster and Northumberland (Population Census of 1831, 338,273), during the Year ended 31st December, 1839, as shown by the Mortuary Registers.
Periods of Age. Number of Deaths. Average Age.
Under 20 37 15
20 Under 30 39 23
30 Under 40 27 33
40 Under 50 27 44
50 Under 60 23 55
60 Under 70 32 64
70 Under 80 17 75
80 and upwards 10 86
Total deaths 212 42

113The following is a summary view of the causes of death, from which it will be seen that out of 212 deaths 69 fell from diseases of the respiratory organs, and of these 52 died from consumption, whose average age of death was no more than 36½, and that no less than 58 were destroyed by accidents.

Statement of the Causes of Death amongst Miners in the Unions of Cumberland and Westmoreland and parts of the Counties of Lancaster and Northumberland, during the Year ended 31st December, 1839, as shown by the Mortuary Registers.
Cause of Death. No. of Deaths.
Disease of Respiratory Organs:—  
  Consumption 52
  Other Diseases 17
Epidemic and Contagious Disease 20
  In Mine 37
  Not stated to be in Mine 21
Diseases of the Brain and Nerves 12
Diseases of the Digestive Organs 10
Disease of the Heart 2
Other Causes of Disease 22
Natural Decay and Old Age 19
Total Deaths 212

In a subsequent portion of this report I shall advert to the state of the health of the miners in Cornwall, as compared by Dr. Barham with the state of the agricultural labourers in the immediate vicinity of the mines.

I would here request attention to a suggestion which appears to me to arise from a consideration of the evils above displayed, (and that will receive further corroboration in the course of this report,) that if there were a regular system of periodical inspection of the places of work or places of large assemblage, it would be attended with great advantage to the lower orders of the community, in which the other classes could not fail to participate.

One most important result of such investigations would be to disabuse the popular mind of much prejudice against particular branches of industry arising from the belief that causes of ill health really accidental and removable, and sometimes unconnected, are essentials to the employment itself. By pointing out the real causes, warning will be given for their avoidance, and indications extended for the application of more certain remedies. Medical men who see only a few patients of the same occupation at distant intervals; who see them in their own dispensaries or in the hospitals, and who have no opportunities of observing such patients under the varied circumstances in which the disease may have been contracted, are left to mere guesses as to its cause. A working person of any of the classes whose condition I have described, presenting himself with the symptoms of a consumption, the medical man has no means of detecting the one of many 114causes by which it may have been occasioned, and the individual patient himself is more likely to mislead than to inform him. Unless his attention were accidentally directed to it, or unless the medical investigator had himself the means of observing the different personal condition of the different sets of persons following the same occupation in town and in country, it is highly probable that the evidence that the disease is not essential to the occupation would escape him. Thus, between different sets of workmen who work at the same descriptions of work during the same hours, and in the same town, but in well or in ill-ventilated factories a marked difference in the personal condition and general health of the workpeople has been perceived. Great differences are perceptible in the general personal condition of persons working during the same hours in cotton-mills in town, and in cotton-mills in rural districts, where they have not only a purer atmosphere, but commonly larger and more commodious places of abode. The factory superintendents generally state that the workers in the country mills are distinguishable at sight by their more healthy appearance, and by the increased proportions amongst them who have florid complexions. Very lately the attention of the Austrian government was called to the labour of the persons working in the cotton-factories in the neighbourhood of Vienna.[14] One half, perhaps, of the mills are of the ordinary construction of the cotton-mills in England of from thirty to forty years’ date, and they work on the average as much as fifteen hours per diem. But it appears that the houses in which the workers live belong to the capitalists who own the mills, many of whom have displayed a desire to ensure, as far as the state of the private residences can ensure, the comfort of those whom they employ, and they have accordingly built for them a superior description of tenements. It is stated that the result of the inquiry conducted by the government physicians was, that the average health enjoyed by the workers in those mills is greater than that of any other class of workpeople in the neighbourhood where the mills are situate, and where the general condition of the population is deemed good; the difference in the general health of the two classes (indicated by the proportions of death—of 1 in 27 of the general population, and 1 in 31 of the manufacturing population), was ascribed to the difference of the residences. My colleagues and myself of the central board of the Factory Commission of Inquiry were fully sensible that the effect of one cause on the health of the working population could not fairly be judged of unless its operation was observed under various circumstances, and unless amongst them the influence of the domestic circumstances, as well as the nature of the work and the place of work, were duly examined. We could not but deem it important that the state of the dwellings of the workpeople, who were the subject of inquiry, should also be investigated; and we gave instructions 115with that view to the district medical commissioners; but the limited time allowed by Parliament for the investigation, prevented its being made as we desired, a circumstance that, for the sake of the workpeople, is much to be regretted, as great injury is done to them by attention being diverted, as it commonly has been, from the real means of prevention.[15]

M. Parent Du Châtelet and M. d’Arcet having presented to the Board of Health of Paris a report on an investigation with a view to discover the physical or medical means by which particular sorts of work might be ameliorated, observe—

“Perhaps it will be said that the task has been already performed, and that several celebrated men, whose works are in the hands of all the world, have preceded us in this career, without leaving to their successors the hope to add anything to what they have published.

“We are assured beforehand that this objection will not be made by our colleagues, who have penetrated into manufactures and have studied their influence with a mind free from prejudice. It is because we have studied the works which treat of the maladies of artisans, and have seen a great number of these workmen in their shops; it is because we have compared books with actual observation; it is, finally, because we have not believed authors on their word, and have subjected them all to a severe verification, that we have seen the insufficiency, nay more, the inaccuracy of the greater part of their assertions.

“This method of proceeding has demonstrated to us that the works of which we speak, far from being the fruit of long observation, have been composed in the silence of the cabinet by men who have only had a casual view of artisans and manufactures; and who, generalizing a few facts presented to them by accident, have singularly exaggerated the inconveniencies of some professions, and attributed to others influences which they are far from exercising.”—Mémoire sur les Véritables Influences du Tabac sur la Santé des Ouvriers. Par M. Parent Du Châtelet.

They give, as an illustration, the exaggerated accounts of the manufacture of tobacco, of which the supposed evils are proved to 116be entirely fictitious, or at best an erroneous application to the manufacture,—of effects which, though incidentally met with in the workmen, were equally common to others of their station. In an abstract of their paper, inserted in the Appendix, there is even an enumeration, by eminent physicians, of specific cases of death from the fancied agency of tobacco, but they only show the extent of error produced in this and kindred instances by the previous conviction of the noxious influence of particular circumstances, and by referring all existing maladies to these without further inquiry. If I might add my testimony on this point, derived from my own observations on two of the commissions of inquiry on which I have had the honour to serve, it would be entirely in corroboration of the above statement. On comparing the actual condition of workmen with the medical descriptions of these diseases, and the causes, we commonly found that the results of a cluster of causes are commonly ascribed to one; and in respect to several classes of workmen the real cause, the invariable antecedent, such as defective ventilation, is unnoticed. No persons were frequently more surprised than the intelligent workmen, by the frequent exaggerated accounts of the operations of particular causes upon them, and the erroneous association of effects to causes with which they were known to have no real connexion. For example, in the work of M. Patissier, one which is the chief work, and of European authority, on the diseases of artisans, he adverts to the diseases of tailors. His description was read to Mr. Brownlow, the tailor, examined upon the subject of the overcrowding of places of work, and the observations of that witness on the statement of M. Patissier are given in answer:—

M. Patissier. “The employment of tailor is one of the most sedentary: seated constantly on a board, his legs crossed, his body stooping forward, this class of labourers exercises not part of the body but the arms, and that only the right one.”

Witness. “That is not so: there is a good deal of action with the left arm in holding and sewing: in using the iron also there is a good deal of action with the arms and knees, and with the rest of the body. Journeymen tailors are remarked as being full breasted, as compared with other workmen; they carry themselves higher, and the chest is more fully developed; so that the labour has, as compared with much other labour, the effect of opening the chest.”

M. Patissier. “Their position is particularly injurious to the functions of the viscera of the abdomen and chest. It produces difficulty of digestion, injures the gastric juices, brings on constipation, hemorrhoides, chronic catarrhs of the bladder, and obstructions of the bowels.”

Witness. “I have never heard complaints beginning with the bowels. The stomach may be out of order; they eat very little solid food, and of course the action of the bowels will not be very good; but as to the effect of the tailors’ work on the chest, we do not consider it at all injurious.”

M. Patissier. “I attended a tailor who every time that he applied himself diligently to his work, was attacked with nausea, colic, jaundice, 117and symptoms that denoted irritation of the liver. I have known, says Stoll, a great number of tailors who have suffered more particularly from diseases of the lungs.”

Witness. “The only complaints I have ever heard are those arising from the foul air, perhaps the dust arising from cloth is injurious. I have already said that men coming from the country to a town shop will faint, and be obliged to leave it in the afternoon.”

M. Patissier. “As they are almost constantly in a sitting posture, the body bent, with the head stooping forward, the blood is unequally distributed, and too large a quantity accumulates in the lungs, either because the bowels of the abdomen, compressed by the position of the body, admit of less blood, and which is therefore forced back into the vessels situated above, or because the short respirations of those who are sedentary, prevents the blood which enters the lungs from passing out with sufficient rapidity, by which local plethora in the heart and lungs is produced. In short, tailors are very liable to pulmonary phthisis, hydro-thorax, and hæmoptysis, which often accompanies them to a very advanced age. M. Corvisart has observed that diseases of the heart and of the larger vessels are not less frequent amongst this class of artisans. As the posture of the tailor causes the blood to flow into the upper part of the body, the circulation in the lower members is consequently much less active, which explains the emaciation and feebleness of the legs and thighs of this class of artisans, and the peculiar walk which distinguishes them.”

Witness. “As to the circulation of the blood, I should say that it was more free than amongst persons sitting at a desk; as soon as the journeyman tailor begins to feel warm and swell, he loosens everything that he has on; his coat is off, and his shirt neck is open; if he wears a handkerchief it is very loose; a tailor wears no garters, nothing that can stop the circulation of the blood: the only confinement that arises is from the position, which is certainly sedentary, but he frequently changes it, and puts one leg over the other when they are tired; they also stretch their legs out. Their breathing even in the close shops is not noticed as short.”

M. Patissier. “Ramazzini says they are very subject to numbness of the thighs, neuralgic sciatica, and lameness.”

Witness. “The tailors are frequently subject to rheumatism, but that is from going from a hot to the cold open air in the way described. Men who are generally emaciated will have their legs emaciated too: the whole frame goes together, but I have never heard young men or tailors in the middle of life being remarked as deficient in that part of bodily capability. Those whom I have known to be emaciated have been spirit drinkers; the emaciation has been more from spirit-drinking than from the heat of the shop, though one brings on the other. Some years ago there used to be much racing at about five o’clock in the morning in the parks, sometimes amongst the tailors themselves, and sometimes with other runners who had celebrity. The tailors were generally good competitors and more active than other workmen in London. There was one of the country tailors at Faversham who some years ago was considered the first runner in England for a hundred yards. The tailors have certainly a peculiar walk, but all whom I have known to be lame were lame originally. When a lad has anything the matter with him, which occasions him not to be strong enough for anything working on his feet, it is a common thing to say, ‘Then we must 118make him a tailor.’ It is a very frequent thing to send weakly children to be tailors, though it is a bad choice, for the lad has little chance of recovering himself in the town shops, and a more open trade would be better for him. Many tailors go for sailors and soldiers, and they are always thought to be good men. I should think there are many tailors in the guards.”

M. Patissier. “There is sometimes to be observed on the surface of their skin a psoriform eruption, which by some writers is ascribed to the irritation of the woollen cloth which these artisans are continually handling. Guldner, however, considers that this eruption is produced by their mode of living.”

Witness. “I never saw or heard of any peculiar eruption on the skin of the tailors, though they perhaps do not attend sufficiently to personal cleanliness. The dye of cloth is sometimes bad, but I never observed any effects from it.”

M. Patissier. “Tailors are apt to prick themselves with their needles, and these wounds often bring on festerings.”

Witness. “That is certainly the case; the needle may carry with it some of the dye, and the festering may also be occasioned by the bad state of the body.”

M. Patissier. “They almost all have decayed teeth, which are destroyed by the habit of biting their thread with them. It is very rare to see a tailor of advanced age with any front teeth.”

Witness. “That is certainly so: they have many of them bad teeth, but I have not noticed any deficiency of the front teeth.”

M. Patissier. “Their sight is soon enfeebled by the fine work which they have to execute, often at night by the light of candles. When they work in the evening at open windows, they are liable to be affected by earache, tooth-ache, cold in the head, and sore eyes.”

Witness. “That is very correct with respect to the tailors in town, but it is not noticed so much with tailors in the country.”

M. Patissier. “The sedentary life which they lead produces heavy, soft flesh, that has no firmness; they generally are thin in body, legs are spare and feeble, and their complexion rather jaundiced.”

Witness. “Almost all this will be found to be the effect of habits that have nothing to do with the trade.”

M. Patissier. “Tailors ought to walk in the open air every evening when their work will admit of it, rub their limbs well with flannel, abstain from all food difficult of digestion, avoid all excesses, and generally every kind of debauchery.”

Witness. “The men when they leave their shop-boards do not begin rubbing their legs, and do not appear to feel the least want of it. The appetites of men working in shops being bad, they do commonly take food that is easy of digestion, as they cannot do with the coarser food. When a tailor comes from the country he will eat a twopenny loaf and take a pint of coffee for breakfast; but after three or four months working in the close shop getting exhausted, then taking beer and then spirits, his appetite fails him, and I have seen him eat only a small slice of bread and butter, and take half a pint of coffee for breakfast, and his appetite generally fails him. The young men on going back to their work in the country, generally recover their appetites unless disease has taken such root that they cannot recover.”

The evidence of Mr. Brownlow was read to Dr. Weber, who 119has had under his care between 200 and 300 cases of journeymen tailors who were treated by him, as physician to the St. George’s Dispensary, which is much resorted to by those of that class of workmen who reside at the west end of the metropolis. Dr. Weber confirms the general tenor of the evidence as to the medical facts, and especially the general conclusion that the greatest proportion of the diseases to which they are subject arise from circumstances separable from their occupation. The evidence as to the personal condition and habits of the workmen is generally corroborated by several master tailors, who state that the journeyman tailor in the rural district who works singly, or in a well-ventilated apartment, is in person commonly the opposite of the one described by M. Patissier; he is described as being a hard worker, but at times a man who is in most village foot races, and not unfrequently the foremost runner, and in games of foot-ball not the last. The journeymen tailors are found amongst the best men in the life guards. In consequence of a strike of tailors, one dragoon regiment had a troop chiefly enlisted from them, and military men state that they greatly distinguished themselves.

If we thus find the crowding of unventilated places of work injurious—in which persons rarely pass more than 12 out of the 24 hours, being free during the remaining time to breathe what air they please—how much worse should we expect the consequences to be of the same fault in workhouses, hospitals, schools, and prisons, in which individuals often pass both day and night in the same apartments, or if in different apartments, still in the same crowd. Accordingly, since the attention of medical men has been sufficiently directed to the subject, the explanation has become complete of many deplorable cases of general ill health and mortality in such places, attributed at first to deficiency or bad quality of food, or to any cause but the true one,—want of ventilation. A striking illustration of this was afforded in the case of a large school for children during the years 1836 and 1837, as recorded in the second volume of the Poor Law Reports. Such general failure of health and such mortality had occurred among the children as to attract public notice and the animadversions of many medical men and others who visited the schools; but by most the evil was attributed chiefly to faulty nourishment; and it was only after the more complete examination, made by direction of the board, and of which the report is published, as above stated, that the diet was found to be unusually good, but the ventilation very imperfect. Suitable changes were then made; and now, in the same space where 700 children were by illness awakening extensive sympathy, 1100 now enjoy excellent health. The defective state of information on the subject of ventilation is frequently shown in reports which assume that apartments containing given cubic feet of space are all that is requisite for life and health, whereas if a spacious drawing-room be completely closed against the admission of air, an inhabitant confined to it would in time be stifled, 120whilst, by active ventilation or change of air, men working in connexion with diving-machines live in the space of a helmet, which merely confines the head.

In the majority of instances of the defective ventilation of schools, the pallid countenance and delicate health of the schoolboy, which is commonly laid to the account of over-application to his book, is due simply to the defective construction of the school-room. In the dame schools, and the schools for the labouring classes, the defective ventilation is the most frequent and mischievous.

Mr. Riddall Wood, an agent of the Manchester Statistical Society, thus describes some of the crowded schools found in the course of examinations, from house to house, of the condition of the town population in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, and York:—

“I may mention that in one school where the average attendance was, I think, 36, not above eight children were present. Upon my inquiring of the mistress as to the reason, she stated that the remainder of her scholars had been taken with the measles. I perceived a bed in the school-room, upon which lay a child much disfigured by that complaint. Another child of the mistress had died of the measles. I had reason to believe that the contagion had been communicated originally from that child, because the cases of the scholars all occurred subsequently. In a school in Liverpool, having above 40 scholars in average attendance, I found the number diminished to somewhere about 10. On inquiring into this case, I ascertained that it arose from the prevalence of scarlet fever, and the master made this remark: ‘It is a very strange thing how this fever should have attacked almost all the children coming to my school, whilst none of my neighbours have got it.’ I attributed that to the very crowded state of the school. The room was very low. When the whole of his scholars were in attendance, it must have been excessively crowded. There was no thorough ventilation.

“I found that in many of the schools there were from 20 to (in some cases) nearly 100 scholars crammed into a dirty house or cellar, without air or ventilation, the effluvia from whose breath and clothes was exceedingly offensive, and must, I am sure, be very injurious to the children’s health. In most of these places, too, I have found that the ordinary household occupations have been carried on by the old women.”

Another inquirer states, that in the neighbourhood of Bolton he saw 70 scholars cooped up in a badly ventilated room not 12 feet square.

Bad ventilation and overcrowding of private houses.

The reports from the great majority of the new unions present evidence of the severe overcrowding of the cottages in the rural districts, and the tenements occupied by the working classes in towns.

From the returns as laid before the public from the commissioners appointed to take the last census, it would appear, however, that the number of houses has more than kept pace with the increase of the population.

From these returns it would appear that the increase of houses even in Scotland has more than kept pace with the increase of 121population. But this result was so much at variance with the reports and communications from all parts of the country relating to the dwellings of the labouring classes, that if any increase of the proportions of houses to the population had taken place, it must have been in the houses of the middle and higher classes of the community. I learn, however, the fact to be, that whilst in obtaining the previous census, merely the heading was given without any instruction for the officer to fill up the “number of houses” on the occasion of taking the last census, the commissioners ordered each separate occupation under the same roof to be returned as a house. In the Scotch towns, and in many of the English towns where it is the custom to let off as separate tenements the flats or floors under the same roof, there will, unless it be explained, appear to have been, as compared with the numbers in the last census, when the buildings and not its subdivisions were returned, an increase of accommodation, when, in reality, there may only have been an increased subdivision of tenements in consequence of an increased pressure of population. The evidence received from every part of the country, from rural districts as well as from towns, attest that the dwellings of large numbers of the labouring population are overcrowded, and from many districts that the overcrowding has increased.

For example, the report of Dr. Laurie from Greenock states, that such is the crowding of the population in the town that—

“Toward the east or old part of the town the amount of population crowded into a small space can hardly be credited, the rapid increase of the population has so far overstepped the means of accommodation that not the meanest outhouse remains without its tenants.”

Dr. Walker, one of the senior surgeons to the Greenock Infirmary, also states that,—

“The rooms are in most instances small, and frequently far too much crowded. It is not unusual to see ten or twelve human beings occupying a room not as many feet square. The lower classes in these districts are grossly filthy in their persons and dwellings; and even many of our operatives who receive good wages are extremely inattentive to cleanliness, both in person and dwelling.”

In a paper on the causes of destitution in Scotland, by Professor Alison, read before the Statistical Society of London, it is stated that—

“From a report on the late census, made to the Lord Provost of Glasgow by Mr. Strang, Chamberlain, (19th July, 1841,) it appears that in the most densely peopled part of the town, (Blackfriars’ parish,) the population since 1831 has increased 40 per cent., while the number of inhabited houses has not increased at all; and again, in the Gorbals, ‘there is an increase in the population of 20 per cent, since 1831,’ though no new buildings have been erected, and where the great majority of the houses are of the smallest class.”—(Watt’s Report, p. 11.)

Dr. Scott Alison in his report on Tranent, states,—

“In many houses in and around Tranent, fowls roost on the rafters 122and on the tops of the bedsteads. The effluvia in these houses are offensive, and must prove very unwholesome. It is scarcely necessary to say that these houses are very filthy. They swarm likewise with fleas. Dogs live in the interior of the lowest houses, and must, of course, be opposed to cleanliness. I have seen horses in two houses in Tranent inhabiting the same apartment with numerous families. One was in Dow’s Bounds. Several of the family were ill of typhus fever, and I remember the horse stood at the back of the bed. In this case the stench was dreadful. In addition to the horse there were fowls, and I think the family was not under ten souls. The father died of typhus on this occasion. The families of most of the labouring people are crowded, in consequence of the smallness of the apartment. Where there are many children, it is common for 10 or 12 people to inhabit one apartment, and for four children to lie in one bed, both in health and sickness. When a collier has few or no children, he sometimes takes single men and women as lodgers.”

Dr. Keith says the—

“Crowding is fearful. I have seen six or eight sleeping in one apartment, with every crevice stopped, and have more than once been nearly suffocated by entering the apartment even after several of them were up and out.”

As the information sought from the medical officers and witnesses in the course of this inquiry was chiefly as to the sanitary condition of the population, they might, naturally be expected only to notice the overcrowding as one of the causes of ill health; and they do frequently notice the fact in that sense; but the overcrowding is also frequently noticed as a cause of extreme demoralization and recklessness, and recklessness, again, as a cause of disease. The following may be given as examples of the statements in respect to overcrowding in the rural districts in England.

Mr. T. P. J. Grantham, medical officer of the Sleaford union, in reference to the typhus fever in the family of an agricultural labourer, gives the following instance of the overcrowding which is frequent in the rural districts:—

“The domestic economy in this house was deplorable; eight persons slept in one small ill-ventilated apartment, with scarcely any bed-clothing; the smell arising from want of cleanliness, and the dirty clothes of the children being allowed to accumulate, was most intolerable. Considering the situation of the house, its filthy state, and the vitiated air which must have been respired over and over again, by eight individuals sleeping in one confined apartment, it is not surprising that this family should have been afflicted with fever, and that of a very malignant type; the mother and one child fell victims to it in a very short time.”

The want of separate apartments, and overcrowding of private dwellings.

The following extract from a communication from the clerk to the Ampthill union, pourtrays the effects of this overcrowding on the morals of the population.

“A large proportion of the cottages in the Union are very miserable places, small and inconvenient, in which it is impossible to keep up 123even the common decencies of life. I will refer to one instance with which I am well acquainted:—A man, his wife, and family, consisting in all of 11 individuals, resided in a cottage containing only two rooms. The man, his wife, and four children, sometimes five, slept in one of the rooms, and in one bed, some at the foot, others at the top, one a girl above 14, another a boy above 12, the rest younger. The other part of the family slept in one bed in the keeping-room, that is, the room in which their cooking, washing, and eating were performed. How could it be otherwise with this family than that they should be sunk into a most deplorable state of degradation and depravity? This, it may be said, is an extreme case, but there are many similar, and a very great number that make near approaches to it. To pursue a further account of this family: the man is reported to be a good labourer, the cottage he held was recently pulled down, and being unable to procure another, he was forced to come into the workhouse. After being in a short time, they left to try again to get a home, but again failed. The man then absconded, and the family returned to the workhouse. The eldest, a female, has had a bastard child, and another, younger, also a female but grown up, has recently been sentenced to transportation for stealing in a dwelling house. The family, when they came in, were observed to be of grossly filthy habits and of disgusting behaviour; I am glad to say, however, that their general conduct and appearance is very much improved since they have become inmates of the workhouse. I without scruple express my opinion that their degraded moral state is mainly attributable to the wretched way in which they have lived and herded together as previously described. I have been thus particular in my account of this family, knowing it to be a type of many others, and intending it to apply to that part of your letter inquiring respecting the comparative character of the female inmates and children of the two descriptions of cottages in question.”

The relieving officer of the Leighton Buzzard union states that, in Leighton,—

“There are a number of cottages without sleeping-rooms separate from the day-rooms, and frequently three or four families are found occupying the same bed-room, and young men and women promiscuously sleeping in the same apartment.”

Mr. Blick, the medical officer of the Bicester union, states that:—

“The residences of the poor in that part of the district are most wretched, the majority consisting of only one room below and one above, in which a family of eight or ten (upon an average, I should say five), live and sleep. In one of these rooms I have witnessed a father, mother, three grown-up sons, a daughter, and a child, lying at the same time with typhus fever: but few of the adjacent residents escaped the infection.”

Mr. L. O. Fox, the medical officer of the Romsey union, states:—

“There is not only a great want of cottages, but also of room in those which now stand. In the parish of Mottisfont I have known 14 individuals of one family together in a small room, the mother being in labour at the time, and in the adjoining room seven other persons sleeping, making 21 persons, in a space which should be occupied by 124six persons only at most. Here are the young woman and young man of 18 or 20 years of age lying alongside of the father and mother, and the latter actually in labour. It will be asked what is the condition of the inmates?—Just such as might be expected.”

Dr. Gilly, the canon of Durham, whose appeal on behalf of the border peasantry, and description of the sheds into which they are placed have been cited, observes, upon the crowding of these small places, 24 feet by 16, with 8, 10, or even 12 persons:—

“How they lie down to rest, how they sleep, how they can preserve common decency, how unutterable horrors are avoided, is beyond all conception. The case is aggravated when there is a young woman to be lodged in this confined space who is not a member of the family, but is hired to do the field-work, for which every hind is bound to provide a female. It shocks every feeling of propriety to think that in a room, and within such a space as I have been describing, civilized beings should be herding together without a decent separation of age and sex. So long as the agricultural system in this district requires the hind to find room for a fellow-servant of the other sex in his cabin, the least that morality and decency can demand is that he should have a second apartment where the unmarried female and those of a tender age should sleep apart from him and his wife. Last Whitsuntide, when the annual lettings were taking place, a hind, who had lived one year in the hovel he was about to quit, called to say farewell, and to thank me for some trifling kindness I had been able to show him. He was a fine tall man of about 45, a fair specimen of the frank, sensible, well-spoken, well-informed Northumbrian peasantry—of that peasantry of which a militia regiment was composed, which so amazed the Londoners (when it was garrisoned in the capital many years ago) by the size, the noble deportment, the soldier-like bearing, and the good conduct of the men. I thought this a good opportunity of asking some questions. Where was he going? and how would he dispose of his large family (eleven in number)? He told me they were to inhabit one of these hind’s cottages, whose narrow dimensions were less than 24 feet by 15, and that the eleven would have only three beds to sleep on; that he himself, his wife, a daughter of 6, and a boy of 4 years old, would sleep in one bed; that a daughter of 18, a son of 12, a son of 10, and a daughter of 8 would have a second bed; and a third would receive his three sons of the age of 20, 16, and 14. ‘Pray,’ said I, ‘do you not think that this is a very improper way of disposing of your family?’ ‘Yes, certainly,’ was the answer; ‘it is very improper in a Christian point of view; but what can we do until they build us better houses.’”

Mr. Riddall Wood was examined as to the effects of overcrowded tenements on the moral habits observed in the course of his visits from house to house in the various towns he was engaged to examine:—

“In what towns did you find instances of the greatest crowding of the habitations?—In Manchester, Liverpool, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Pendleton. In a cellar in Pendleton, I recollect there were three beds in the two apartments of which the habitation consisted, but having no door between them, in one of which a man and his wife slept; in another, a man, his wife and child; and in a third two unmarried 125females. In Hull I have met with cases somewhat similar. A mother about 50 years of age, and her son I should think 25, at all events above 21, sleeping in the same bed, and a lodger in the same room. I have two or three instances in Hull in which a mother was sleeping with her grown up son, and in most cases there were other persons sleeping in the same room, in another bed. In a cellar in Liverpool, I found a mother and her grown-up daughters sleeping on a bed of chaff on the ground in one corner of the cellar, and in the other corner three sailors had their bed. I have met with upwards of 40 persons sleeping in the same room, married and single, including, of course, children and several young adult persons of either sex. In Manchester I could enumerate a variety of instances in which I found such promiscuous mixture of the sexes in sleeping-rooms. I may mention one; a man, his wife and child sleeping in one bed; in another bed, two grown up females; and in the same room two young men, unmarried. I have met with instances of a man, his wife, and his wife’s sister, sleeping in the same bed together. I have known at least half-a-dozen cases in Manchester in which that has been regularly practised, the unmarried sister being an adult.

“In the course of your own inquiry, how many instances, if you were to look over your Notes, of persons of different sexes sleeping promiscuously, do you think you met with?—I think I am speaking within bounds when I say I have amongst my memoranda above 100 cases, including, of course, cases of persons of different sexes sleeping in the same room.

“Was it so common as to be in nowise deemed extraordinary or culpable amongst that class of persons?—It seemed not to be thought of. As a proof of this I may mention one circumstance which just occurs to me:—Early in my visitation of Pendleton, I called at the dwelling of a person whose sons worked with himself in a colliery. It was in the afternoon, when a young man, one of the sons, came down stairs in his shirt and stood before the fire where a very decently-dressed young female was sitting. The son asked his mother for a clean shirt, and on its being given to him, very deliberately threw off the shirt he had on, and after warming the clean one, put it on. In another dwelling in Pendleton, a young girl 18 years of age, sat by the fire in her chemise during the whole time of my visit. Both these were houses of working people (colliers), and not by any means of ill-fame.

“During your inquiries were you able to observe any further demoralization attendant upon these circumstances?—I have frequently met with instances in which the parties themselves have traced their own depravity to these circumstances. As, for example, while I was following out my inquiries in Hull, I found in one room a prostitute, with whom I remonstrated on her course of life, and asked her whether she would not be in a better condition if she were an honest servant instead of living in vice and wretchedness. She admitted she should, and on asking the cause of her being brought to her present condition, she stated that she had lodged with a married sister, and slept in the same bed with her and her husband; that hence improper intercourse took place, and from that she gradually became more and more depraved; and at length was thrown upon the town, because, having lost her character, the town was her only resource. Another female of this 126description admitted that her first false step was in consequence of her sleeping in the same room with a married couple. In the instance I have mentioned of the two single women sleeping in the same room with the married people, I have good authority for believing that they were common to the men. In the case which I have mentioned of the two daughters and the woman where I found the sailors, I learned, from the mother’s admission, that they were common to the lodgers. In all of these cases the sense of decency was obliterated.”

Mr. Baker, in his report on the condition of the labouring classes in Leeds corroborates this statement:—

“In the houses of the working classes, brothers and sisters, and lodgers of both sexes, are found occupying the same sleeping-room with the parents, and consequences occur which humanity shudders to contemplate. It is but three or four years ago since a father and daughter stood at the bar of the Leeds Sessions as criminals, the one in concealing, and the other in being an accessary to concealing, the birth of an illegitimate child, born on the body of the daughter by the father; and now, in November, 1841, one of the Registrars of Leeds has recorded the birth of an illegitimate child born on the body of a young girl, only 16 years of age, who lived with her mother, who cohabited with her lodger, the father of this child, of which the girl had been pregnant five months, when the mother died.”

The overcrowding of the tenements of the labouring classes is productive of demoralization in a mode pointed out by Mr. Barnett, the clerk to the Nottingham Union, who states—

“That the houses are generally too small to afford a comfortable reception to the family, and the consequence is that the junior members are generally in the streets. Girls and youths destitute of adequate house-room, and freed from parental control, are accustomed to gross immoralities.”

Hereafter, when considering the pecuniary means of defraying the expense of sanitary measures, it will be shown how much less of such consequences in most districts than may be supposed is ascribable to absolute poverty or real inability to pay for better accommodation. To obviate even immediate impressions of this description, I might adduce much evidence of the character of the following testimony of Mr. J. Thomson, of Clitheroe:—

“What is the number of persons whom you have in your employment?—Men, women, and children, between 900 and 1000.

“Are you the owner of any of the tenements where they reside?—Very few; not more than 12 or 15.

“What description of tenements are they?—Houses with two rooms above, two rooms below, and a yard; and letting at a rent of from 7l. to 8l. per annum. These are occupied by foremen in various departments, and the better description of artisans.

“What wages do this description of persons earn?—Various, from 30s. to 3l. weekly; averaging, perhaps, 2l. weekly; out of which they pay 3s. per week for rent.

127“What is your experience in respect to the habits of the workpeople in these tenements?—The remark which I have to make is on the very low state of feeling prevalent amongst even a high class of workmen as to decency or propriety. The tenements sufficed for them when they were young, but when the female children become young women, and the boys advance to puberty, and decency requires them to have separate rooms, the usual practice of the parents is to take the young women into their own sleeping-rooms. I have one highly respectable foreman who has one daughter aged 20, and another aged 22, sleeping on each side of the bed in which himself and his wife sleep. The next bed-room is filled with the younger children of both sexes, boys and girls, up to 16 years of age. The earnings of this family must have been 50s. per week. The rent they paid was 3s. weekly, which was little more than the interest on the money invested. I have remonstrated on the indecency of such habits, and on their bad effects, but the expense of the extra shilling a-week for a house with another bed-room was considered a sufficient answer to my remonstrance. In my own tenements I have built the additional room, and notwithstanding the remonstrances, I have required the additional rent. When they have remonstrated, I have told them of the fact, that the cost of the additional room would only be a beneficial deduction from the money spent in liquor.”

It would require much time and various opportunities of observation to attempt to make an exact analysis of the combined causes, and an estimate of the effect of each separate cause which operate to produce the masses of moral and physical wretchedness met with in the investigation of the condition of the lowest population. But it became evident, in the progress of the inquiry, that several separate circumstances had each its separate moral as well as physical influence. Thus tenements of inferior construction had manifestly an injurious operation on the moral as well as on the sanitary condition, independently of any overcrowding. For example, it appears to be matter of common observation, in the instance of migrant families of workpeople who are obliged to occupy inferior tenements, that their habits soon become “of a piece” with the dwelling. A gentleman who has observed closely the condition of the workpeople in the south of Cheshire and the north of Lancashire, men of similar race and education, working at the same description of work, namely, as cotton-spinners, mill hands, and earning nearly the same amount of wages, states that the workmen of the north of Lancashire are obviously inferior to those in the south of Cheshire, in health and habits of personal cleanliness and general condition. The difference is traced mainly to the circumstance, that the labourers in the north of Lancashire inhabit stone houses of a description that absorb moisture, the dampness of which affects the health, and causes personal uncleanliness, induced by the difficulty of keeping a clean house. The operation of the same deteriorating influences were also observable in Scotland, and it may be illustrated by several instances which I have met with in the course of my own personal inquiries.

128One of the circumstances most favourable to the improvement of the condition of an artisan or an agricultural labourer, is his obtaining as a wife a female who has had a good industrial training in the well regulated household of persons of a higher condition. The following instance of the effect of the dwelling itself on the condition of a female servant when married, was brought to my notice by a member of the family in which they had been brought up. One was of a young woman who had been taught the habits of neatness, order, and cleanliness most thoroughly as regards household work.

“Her attention to personal neatness,” says a lady who is my informant, “was very great; her face seemed always as if it were just washed, and with her bright hair neatly combed underneath her snowwhite cap, a smooth white apron, and her gown and handkerchief carefully put on, she used to look very comely. After a year or two, she married the serving man, who, as he was retained in his situation, was obliged to take a house as near his place as possible. The cottages in the neighbourhood were of the most wretched kind, mere hovels built of rough stones and covered with ragged thatch; there were few even of these, so there was no choice, and they were obliged to be content with the first that was vacant, which was in the most retired situation. After they had been married about two years, I happened to be walking past one of these miserable cottages, and as the door was open, I had the curiosity to enter. I found it was the home of the servant I have been describing. But what a change had come over her! Her face was dirty, and her tangled hair hung over her eyes. Her cap, though of good materials, was ill washed and slovenly put on. Her whole dress, though apparently good and serviceable, was very untidy, and looked dirty and slatternly; everything indeed about her seemed wretched and neglected, (except her little child,) and she appeared very discontented. She seemed aware of the change there must be in her appearance since I had last seen her, for she immediately began to complain of her house. The wet came in at the door of the only room, and when it rained, through every part of the roof also, except just over the hearth-stone; large drops fell upon her as she lay in bed, or as she was working at the window: in short, she had found it impossible to keep things in order, so had gradually ceased to make any exertions. Her condition had been borne down by the condition of the house. Then her husband was dissatisfied with his home and with her; his visits became less frequent, and if he had been a day labourer, and there had been a beer-shop or a public-house, the preference of that to his home would have been inevitable, and in the one instance would have presented an example of a multitude of cases.

“She was afterwards, however, removed to a new cottage, which was water-tight, and had some conveniences, and was built close to the road, which her former mistress and all her friends must constantly pass along. She soon resumed, in a great degree, her former good habits, but still there was a little of the dawdle left about her; the remains of the dispiritedness caused by her former very unfavourable circumstances.”

I visited some other dwellings not far from the one above described, and met with another instance of a female who had been brought up as a servant in a well-ordered house, and who, for her 129station, had received a very excellent religious and moral education. Before her marriage she had been distinguished by the refinement with which she sung national airs, and for her knowledge of the Bible and of the doctrines of her church. Her personal condition had become of “a piece” with the wretched stone undrained hovel, with a pigsty before it, in which she had been taken. We found her with rings of dirt about her neck, and turning over with dirty hands Brown’s Dictionary, to see whether the newly-elected minister was “sound” in his doctrine. In this case no moral lapse was apparent, but the children were apparently brought up under great disadvantages.

There, however, as in most cases, the internal economy of the houses were primarily affected by the defective internal and surrounding drainage that produced the damp and wet, and thence the dirt against which the inmates had ceased to contend. On inquiry of the male labourers in the district, it appeared that almost every third man was subjected to rheumatism; and with them, it was evident that the prevalence of damp and marsh miasma from the want of drainage, if it did not necessitate, formed a strong temptation to, the use of ardent spirits. With them as with the females, the wretched condition of the tenement formed a strong barrier against personal cleanliness and the use of decent clothes.

In the rural districts the very defects of the cottages which let in the fresh air, in spite of all the efforts of the inmates to exclude it, often obviate the effects of the overcrowding and defective ventilation. It has been observed, that while the labouring population of several districts have had no shelter but huts, similar to those described by Dr. Gilly, as the habitations of the border peasantry, which afforded a free passage for currents of air, they were not subject to fevers, though they were to rheumatism; but when, through the good intentions of the proprietors, such habitations were provided as were deemed more comfortable from excluding the weather effectually, but which, from the neglect of ventilation afforded recesses for stagnating air, and impurities which they had not the means or had not a sufficient love of cleanliness to remove; though rheumatism was excluded, febrile infection was generated. In the towns the access of the wind is impeded by the closeness of the surrounding habitations, and the internal construction of the dwellings tends to exclude the air still more effectually. Were the closed windows opened, it would frequently be only to admit a worse compound, the air from neglected privies, and the miasma from the wet and undrained court or street.

The close pent up air in these abodes has, undoubtedly, a depressing effect on the nervous energies, and this again, with the uneducated, and indeed with many of the educated workpeople, has an effect on the moral habits by acting as a strong and often 130irresistible provocative to the use of fermented liquors and ardent spirits. Much may be due to the incitement of association of greater numbers of people, but it is a common fact that, the same workpeople indulge more in drink when living in the close courts and lanes of the town than when living in the country, and that the residence in the different places is attended with a difference of effects similar to those described in respect to the tailors working in crowded rooms in towns and the tailors working separately or in the country. The workpeople who have fallen into habits of drinking, strenuously allege the impossibility of avoiding the practice in such places; they do, however, drink in greater quantities in such places, and give increased effect to the noxious miasma by which they are surrounded.

Some inquiries from Mr. Liddle, the medical officer of the Whitechapel union, as to the condition of the workpeople he visited in such places as he has described, brought to notice another indirect effect of the external as well as the internal condition of the dwelling on their domestic economy and general condition.

It appeared that the persons whom he visited for the purpose of administering medical relief, were men earning, when in work, from 16s. to 20s. per week, the women earning proportionably. Yet whenever they were subjected to the frequent attacks of sickness which prevailed amongst them, they were in the most, wretched destitution: the house was bare of everything; they had no provisions and no credit, and their need for relief was most imminent. In answer to the inquiry how this was to be accounted for, inasmuch as with agricultural labourers who earned little more than half that sum, and paid nearly as much for their food, in visiting their cottages with their ministers, I had commonly observed some store of provisions; Mr. Liddle stated that in such places as those in his district, in such atmospheres, a store of provisions would not keep: everything decayed rapidly, and the workpeople consequently lived “from hand to mouth.” On inquiring as to this fact from a respectable butcher, accustomed to sell meat to persons living in such situations, he stated that—

“Meat sold on a Saturday night, in hot weather, to poor people, who have only one close room, in which they sleep, and live, and cook, will certainly turn before the Sunday morning; when, if it were kept in the butcher’s shop, or in a well-ventilated place, it would be in as good a condition on the Monday morning. There is a great deal of loss of meat in consequence of the want of ventilation and bad condition of the dwellings of the poorer classes. The butter kept in such places sooner becomes rancid, and the bread dry and disagreeable.”

Here, then, we have from the one agent, a close and polluted atmosphere, two different sets of effects; the one set here noticed engendering improvidence, expense, and waste,—the other, the depressing effects of external and internal miasma on the nervous 131system, tending to incite the habitual use of ardent spirits; both tending to precipitate this population into disease and misery.

The familiarity with the sickness and death constantly present in the crowded and unwholesome districts, appears to re-act as another concurrent, cause in aggravation of the wretchedness and vice in which they are plunged. Seeing the apparent uncertainty of the morrow, the inhabitants really take no heed of it, and abandon themselves with the recklessness and avidity of common soldiers in a war to whatever gross enjoyment comes within their reach. All the districts I visited, where the rate of sickness and mortality was high, presented, as might be expected, a proportionate amount of severe cases of destitute orphanage and widowhood; and the same places were marked by excessive recklessness of the labouring population. In Dumfries, for example, it is estimated, that the cholera, swept away one-eleventh part of the population. Until recently, the town had not recovered the severe effects of the visitation, and the condition of the orphans was most deplorable. Amongst young artisans who were earning from 16s. to 18s. a-week, I was informed that there were very few who made any reserves against the casualties of sickness. I was led to ask the provost what number of bakers’ shops there were? “Twelve,” was his answer. And what number of whiskey-shops may the town possess? “Seventy-nine” was the reply. If we might rely on the inquiries made of working-men when Dr. Arnott and I went through the wynds of Edinburgh, their consumption of spirits bore almost the like proportion to the consumption of wholesome food. We observed to Captain Stuart, the superintendent of the police at Edinburgh, in our inspection of the wynds, that life appeared to be of little value, and was likely to be held cheap in such spots. He stated, in answer, that a short time ago a man had been executed for the murder of his wife in a fit of passion in the very room we had accidentally entered, and where we were led to make the observation. At a short distance from that spot, and amidst others of this class of habitation, were those which had been the scenes of the murders by Burke and Hare. Yet amidst these were the residences of working men engaged in regular industry. The indiscriminate mixture of workpeople and their children in the immediate vicinity, and often in the same rooms with persons whose character was denoted by the question and answer more than once exchanged, “When were you last washed?” “When I was last in prison,” was only one mark of the entire degradation to which they had been brought. The working-classes living in these districts were equally marked by the abandonment, of every civil or social regulation. Asking some children in one of the rooms of the wynds in which they swarmed in Glasgow what were their names, they hesitated to answer, when one of the inmates said, they called them ——, mentioning some nicknames. “The fact is,” observed Captain Miller, the superintendent of the police, “they 132really have no names. Within this range of buildings I have no doubt I should be able to find a thousand children who have no names whatever, or only nicknames, like dogs.” There were found amidst the occupants, labourers earning wages undoubtedly sufficient to have paid for comfortable tenements, men and women who were intelligent, and so far as could be ascertained, had received the ordinary education which should have given better tastes and led to better habits. My own observations have been confirmed by the statement of Mr. Sheriff Alison, of Glasgow, that in the great manufacturing towns of Scotland, “in the contest with whiskey, in their crowded population, education has been entirely overthrown.” The ministers, it will be seen, make similar reports from the rural districts. On the observation of other districts, and the comparison of the habits of the same workmen in town and country, it will be seen that I consider that the use of the whiskey and the prostration of the education and moral habits for which the Scottish labourers have been distinguished is, to a considerable extent, attributable to the surrounding physical circumstances, including the effects of the bad ventilation. The labourers presented to our notice in the condition described, in the crowded districts, were almost all Scotch. It is common to ascribe the extreme of misery and vice wholly to the Irish portion of the population of the towns in Scotland. A short inspection on the spot would correct this error. Mr. Baird, in his report on the sanitary condition of the poor of Glasgow, observes that “the bad name of the poor Irish had been too long attached to them.” Dr. Cowan, of Glasgow, stated that “From ample opportunities of observation, they appeared to him to exhibit much less of that squalid misery and addiction to the use of ardent spirits than the Scotch of the same grade.” Instances were indeed stated to us, where the Irish were preferred for employment from their superior steadiness and docility; and Mr. Stuart, the Factory Inspector for Scotland, states, that “instances are now occurring of a preference being given to them as workers in the flax factories on account of their regular habits, and that very significant hints have been given by extensive factory owners, that Irish workmen will be selected unless the natives of the place, and other persons employed by them, relinquish the prevailing habits of intemperance.” Dr. Scott Alison, in his report on Tranent, has described the population in receipt of high wages, but living under similar influences, as prone to passionate excitement, and as apt instruments for political discontents; their moral perceptions appeared to have been obliterated, and they might be said to be characterised by a “ferocious indocility which makes them prompt to wrong and violence, destroys their social nature, and transforms them into something little better than wild beasts.”

It is to be regretted that the coincidence of pestilence and moral disorder is not confined to one part of the island, nor to 133any one race of the population. The overcrowding and the removal of what may be termed the architectural barriers or protections of decency and propriety, and the causes of physical deterioration in connexion with the moral deterioration, are also fearfully manifest in the districts in England, which, at the time to which the evidence refers, were in a state of prosperity.

Mr. Baker, in his report on the condition of the population, after giving an instance of the contrast presented by the working people living in better dwellings, situated in better cleansed neighbourhoods (to which I shall advert when submitting the evidence in respect to preventive measures), describes the population living in houses—

“With broken panes in every window-frame, and filth and vermin in every nook. With the walls unwhitewashed for years, black with the smoke of foul chimneys, without water, with corded bed-stocks for beds, and sacking for bed-clothing, with floors unwashed from year to year, without out-offices, * * * * while without, there are streets, elevated a foot, sometimes two, above the level of the causeway, by the accumulation of years, and stagnant puddles here and there, with their fœtid exhalations, causeways broken and dangerous, ash-places choked up with filth, and excrementitious deposits on all sides as a consequence, undrained, unpaved, unventilated, uncared-for by any authority but the landlord, who weekly collects his miserable rents from his miserable tenants.

“Can we wonder that such places are the hot-beds of disease, or that it obtains, upon constitutions thus liberally predisposed to receive it, and forms the mortality which Leeds exhibits. Adult life, exposed to such miasmata, gives way. How much more then infant life, when ushered into, and attempted to be reared in, such obnoxious atmospheres. On the moral habits similar effects are produced. An inattention on the part of the local authorities to the state of the streets diminishes year by year the respectability of their occupiers. None dwell in such localities but to whom propinquity to employment is absolutely essential. Those who might advocate a better state of things, depart; and of those who remain, the one-half, by repeated exhibitions of indecency and vulgarity, and indeed by the mere fact of neighbourship, sink into the moral degradation which is natural to the other, and vicious habits and criminal propensities precede the death which these combinations prepare.”

No education as yet commonly given appears to have availed against such demoralizing circumstances as those described; but the cases of moral improvement of a population, by cleansing, draining, and the improvement of the internal and external conditions of the dwellings, of which instances will be presented, are more numerous and decided, though there still occur instances of persons in whom the love of ardent spirits has gained such entire possession as to have withstood all such means of retrieving them. The most experienced public officers acquainted with the condition of the inferior population of the towns would agree in giving the first place in efficiency and importance to the removal of what 134may be termed the physical barriers to improvement, and that as against such barriers moral agencies have but a remote chance of success.

A gentleman who has had considerable experience in the management of large numbers of the manufacturing population stated to me that in every case of personal and moral improvement the successful step was made by the removal of the party from the ill-conditioned neighbourhood in which he had been brought up. When a young workman married, he interfered to get him a better residence apart from the rest; and when this was done important alterations followed; but if he took up his abode in the old neighbourhood, the condition of the wife was soon brought down to the common level, and the marriage became a source of wretchedness.

Benevolent persons, viewing the bare aspect of some of the most afflicted neighbourhoods, have raised subscriptions for the purchase of furniture, bedding, and blankets, for the relief of the inmates, but by this pecuniary aid they have only added fuel to the flame; that is, they have enabled the inmates to purchase more ardent spirits. The force of the habit, which is aggravated by misdirected charity, is indicated in the following instances, of which one was mentioned to me by the Rev. Whitwell Elwin:—

“I was lately informed by a master tailor of Bath that one of his men, who had earned 3l. a-week at piece-work for years, had never within his knowledge possessed table, chairs, or bedding. I found the statement on examination to be strictly true. Some straw on which he slept, a square block of wood, a low three-legged stool, and an old tea-caddy, are the complete inventory of the articles of a room, the occupier of which, with only himself and his wife to maintain, was wealthier than many in the station of gentlemen. He had frequently excited lively compassion in benevolent individuals, who, supposing that he was struggling for very existence, furnished him with a variety of household goods, which were regularly pawned before a week was out, and afforded to the superficial observer fresh evidence of the extremity of his distress. The cause of all this is quickly told: the wife was to be seen going to and fro several times a-day with a cream-jug of gin, and to gratify this appetite, they had voluntarily reduced themselves to the condition of savages. I could add numerous instances of a similar kind. Indeed, were a stranger to go through the town, and judge only from the appearance of things, I am convinced that he would select his examples of greatest privation not from the really poor, but from men who were in the receipt of more than 30s. a-week. Charity, which when prompted by pure motives, always blesses him that gives, does not always bless him that takes. I am afraid that the indiscriminate adoption of dirt and rags as a test of poverty, especially in a town like Bath, where private charity prevails on an extensive scale, operates as a premium upon ill habits, and as a discouragement to cleanliness, and leads many to affect a vice which was not habitual to them.”

As an instance of that state of voluntary wretchedness which renders all such charity or assistance worse than useless, I may 135give an incident mentioned to me by Sir Charles Shaw, the chief commissioner of the new police force in Manchester:—

“A week since,” says Sir Charles, “I sent an inspector of police to examine a lodging-house. He came back to state that he had never witnessed such a sight. He found in one room, totally destitute of furniture, three men and two women lying on the bare floor, without straw, and with bricks only for their pillows. I observed, that I supposed they were drunk. ‘Yes,’ said the inspector; ‘they were, and I found the lodging-house keeper himself in a tolerable bed, and in another room I found bundles of fine fresh straw. I blamed the man for not giving that straw to his lodgers.’ He answered, ‘I keep that straw for the people who prefer purchasing it to gin: those above stairs preferred the gin.’ It is, I find, a common thing here for lodging-house keepers to have straw for sale.”

In the course of an examination which I took, under the Poor Law Commission of Inquiry, from the late Mr. Walker, the stipendiary magistrate of the Thames Police Office, he observed, in respect to cases of apparent destitution:—

“Casualties occurring among the indigent or profligate are at all times liable to be represented as cases resulting from the neglect of the proper authorities. Some time ago, in going round the parish of Whitechapel with the churchwardens, during service-time, we entered an old building in Rosemary-lane, for which there was then no owner, the stairs were so dark and ruinous that though it was mid-day we were obliged to have a candle, to enable us to go up to them: the first-floor was the receptacle of every description of filth. We entered one room, in which we found two half-naked dirty children; their mother lay in one corner on some dirty straw, covered only with a sack. There was no furniture nor other articles in the place, except a fagot of wood and a few broken plates, a basket of skate, and some sprats strewed on the floor. This woman was a fish-hawker, a business by which, in all probability, she gained enough to have made her extremely comfortable, but she preferred an alternation of great privation and profligate enjoyment. Had she accidentally died in this state, here would have been a scene of misery, and a case of excitement for the philanthropists! In our district there are other premises under similar circumstances, all of which are tenanted by persons of the very lowest grade; and it is surprising, considering the state in which they live, that unaccountable deaths, having the semblance of starvation, do not take place amongst them. From what I have observed of these places, I am fully convinced that if shambles were built on any spot, and all who choose were allowed to occupy them, they would soon be occupied by a race lower than any yet known. I have often said that if empty casks were placed along the streets of Whitechapel, in a few days each of them would have a tenant, and these tenants would keep up their kind, and prey upon the rest of the community. I am sure that if such facilities were offered, there is no conceivable degradation to which portions of the species might not be reduced. Allow these tub-men no education, and you would have so many savages living in the midst of civilization. Wherever there are empty houses which are not secured, they are soon tenanted by wretched 136objects, and these tenants continue so long as there is a harbour for them. Parish officers and others come to me to aid them in clearing such places. I tell the police and the parish that there is no use in their watching these places, that they must board them up if they would get rid of the occupants. If they will give the accommodation they will get the occupants. If you will have marshes and stagnant waters you will there have suitable animals, and the only way of getting rid of them is by draining the marshes.”

The Reverend Whitwell Elwin observes upon this subject that—

“Those who think that labourers will work for themselves a reform in their habitations very much underrate the effects of habit. A person accustomed to fresh air, and all the comforts of civilized life, goes into a miserable room, dirty, bare, and, above all, sickening from the smell. Judging from his own sensations, he conceives that nothing but the most abject poverty could have produced this state of things, and he can imagine nothing necessary to a cure but a way for escape. A very simple experiment will correct these erroneous impressions. Let him remain a short time in the room, and the perception of closeness will so entirely vanish that he will almost fancy that the atmosphere has been purified since his entrance. There are few who are not familiar with this fact; and if such are the effects of an hour in blunting our refined sensations, and rendering them insensible to noxious exhalations, what must be the influence of years on the coarser perceptions of the working-man?

“All who know the lower classes will testify that the last want felt by the dirty is cleanliness, that their last expenditure is on the comforts of their home. Two winters ago I found a painter whose bed was without blankets, whose room was without furniture, who was destitute even of the ordinary utensils of civilized life, whose floor was covered with worse filth than that of the streets—I found this man at dinner with a roast loin of pork stuffed with onions, a Yorkshire pudding, a large jug of ale, cheese, and a salad. I will undertake to say that half the gentlemen in Bath did not sit down on that Sunday to so good a dinner.”

A number of communications simply assign “intemperance” as the cause of fever, and of the prevalent mortality. Of most of these communications, which it were unnecessary to recite, it may be observed, that when intemperance is mentioned as the cause of disease, as being the immediate antecedent, on carrying investigation a little further back, discomfort is found to be the immediate antecedent to the intemperance; and where the external causes of positive discomfort do not prevail in the towns, the workpeople are generally found to have few or no rival pleasures to wean them from habits of intemperance, and to have come from districts subject to the discomforts likely to engender them. In one of the returns from Scotland it is observed that with the people, whether for a fever, a cold, or consumption, or a pleurisy, whiskey is the universal antidote. The popular belief that fermented liquor or ardent spirits are proper antidotes to the effects of damp or cold has been 137universal, and has not wanted even medical sanction. Out-door allowances of beer have been prescribed by some medical officers in marshy and undrained districts as the proper preservatives against ague or rheumatism. The Board will now be in a position to urge the importance of facilitating drainage as a means for the protection of the population by the prevention of disease and the inducement to pernicious habits, as well as a source of profitable industry. It is now beginning to be observed in several dangerous occupations that temperance is the best means of withstanding the effects of the noxious agencies which they have to encounter. Amongst the painters, for example, the men who are temperate and cleanly suffer little from the occupation, but if any one of them become intemperate, the noxious causes take effect with a certainty and rapidity proportioned to the relaxed domestic habits. The Inquiry presents many instances of the beneficial effects of the changes of the popular habit of having recourse to fermented liquors or to spirits as necessary protective stimulants. In several of the mining districts, for example, it is an extensive practice to provide for the accommodation of the miners out of the hot mines a room in which they may drink beer as a preservative against the effects of the change to the cold and damp air to which they are about to expose themselves. Dr. Barham, in his Report to the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Employment of Young Persons in Mines and Manufactories, notices an admirable example within the province of voluntary exertion, and the beneficial effects produced by it at the Dolcoath copper and tin mine, Camborne, Cornwall. There the proprietors, besides establishing other easy and economical preventive arrangements, provide a warm room for the miners to change their dresses and take hot meat-soup, which is cheaper, probably, than beer. “And the men” (says a witness) “say they never feel cold when they take it. We conceive that there have been much fewer cases of consumption on the club since this practice has been adopted.”

The effects of the noxious physical agencies on the moral condition of the population will receive more full illustration in connexion with the statistical evidence as to their effects, with the evidence on the practical operation of the means of prevention.

Domestic mismanagement, a predisposing cause of disease.

The subsequent examples relate chiefly to the effects of general domestic mismanagement as a concurrent cause of disease.

Dr. Baker, in his report on the sanitary condition of the population of Derby, states that—

“There is also another cause of sickness to be found in their houses, and which, like the former, i. e., the external circumstances, is in constant 138operation: I mean the want of domestic comforts, a want which the wages they earn would, in many instances, enable them to remove if their means were not, as too often happens, expended viciously or improvidently. It is with regret that I speak unfavourably of the poor, whilst my whole aim, in this communication, has been to awaken a sympathy towards those sufferings of which I have been so often a witness. But several years’ experience of the habits of the poor, derived from my situation as an hospital physician, and backed by the additional evidence I have obtained by acting for three years as a guardian of the poor in this large town, has, I am sorry to say, served but to confirm me in the opinion I have just now expressed; and in support of which I shall instance the family of the Slaters mentioned at No. 12, in Short-street.

“The earnings of four members of this family were as follows:—

    s. d.  
The father     14 0 per week, at gardening, &c.
The eldest son, aged 20   12 0 per week, at a brewery.
Daughter {Twins, }
{aged 18}
  6 0 per week, at a factory.
Son   9 0 per week, at the same factory.

    £2 1 0 per week.

“The mother of this family, it appears, is left disengaged from all but her household duties and the care of the younger children; the house, nevertheless, is nearly destitute of furniture, and presents a picture of disorder and want. On the other hand, at No. 15, (Briggs) although the husband has for some years past been a weak and ailing man, the family is well ordered and cleanly; and to this fact I mainly attribute the milder and modified form of fever which affected the children.”

The Committee of Physicians and Surgeons at Birmingham, in their report, indicate the powerful operation of depraved domestic habits as a predisposing cause to disease:—

“It cannot,” they say, “be doubted that whilst the arts and manufactures of the place prove in some instances injurious to health, and in a few possibly destructive to life, these evil consequences, as well as hereditary predisposition to disease, are promoted by intemperance, not that intemperance is an infinitely more frequent cause of disease and death amongst the artisans than all the various employments of all the manufactories combined.

“In the expenditure of their weekly earnings, improvidence and thoughtless extravagance prevail to a lamentable degree. The observations upon which this opinion is formed are made upon the habits of the people themselves, confirmed by extensive and recent inquiries among the shopkeepers with whom they deal. Tea, coffee, sugar, butter, cheese, bacon, (of which a great deal is consumed in this town,) and other articles, the working people purchase in small quantities from the hucksters, who charge an enormous profit upon them, being, as they state, compelled to do so to cover the losses which they frequently sustain by bad debts. Huckster dealing is a most extravagant mode of dealing; there were in this town, in 1834, 717 of these shops, and the number has greatly increased since that time. Meat is purchased in the same 139improvident manner; the working men generally contrive to have a good joint of meat upon the Sunday; the dinner on the other days of the week is made from steaks or chops, which is the most extravagant mode either of purchasing or cooking meat.

“The improvidence of this class of persons arises in many instances from the indulgence of vicious propensities. Drunkenness, with all its attendant miseries, prevails to a great extent, though it is by no means to be regarded as a characteristic feature of the mechanic of this town in particular. It most generally prevails among that class of workmen who obtain the highest wages, but who are often found in the most deplorable and abject condition. The improvidence of which we are speaking is to be traced in very many instances to extreme ignorance on the part of the wives of these people. The females are from necessity bred up from their youth in the workshops, as the earnings of the younger members contribute to the support of the family. The minds and morals of the girls become debased, and they marry totally ignorant of all those habits of domestic economy which tend to render a husband’s home comfortable and happy; and this is very often the cause of the man being driven to the alehouse to seek that comfort after his day of toil which he looks for in vain by his own fireside. The habit of a manufacturing life being once established in a woman, she continues it, and leaves her home and children to the care of a neighbour or of a hired child, sometimes only a few years older than her own children, whose services cost her probably as much as she obtains for her labour. To this neglect on the part of their parents is to be traced the death of many children; they are left in the house with a fire before they are old enough to know the danger to which they are exposed, and are often dreadfully burnt.”

Mr. Mott’s report on the sanitary condition of the population of his district presents parallel instances of the different economy prevalent amongst these classes:—

Contrast in the Economy of Families.

1. 1.
Cellar in Wellington-court, Chorlton-upon-Medlock; a man, his wife and seven children; income per week, 1l. 11s.; rent 1s. 6d. per week; three beds for seven, in a dark, unventilated back room, bed-covering of the meanest and scantiest kind—the man and wife occupying the front room as a sleeping-room for themselves, in which the whole family take their food and spend their leisure time; here the family, in a filthy destitute state, with an income averaging 3s.d. each per week, four being children under 11 years of age. In a dwelling-house in Chorlton Union, containing one sitting-room and two bed-rooms; a man, his wife and three children; rent 2s. 6d. per week; income per week 12s. 6d., being an average of 2s. 6d. per week for each person. Here, with a sickly man, the house presented an appearance of comfort in every part, as also the bedding was in good order.
2. 2.
140Cellar in York-street, Chorlton-upon-Medlock; a man—a hand-loom weaver—his wife and family (one daughter married, with her husband forms part of the family), comprising altogether seven persons; income 2l. 7s., or 6s.d. per head; rent 2s. Here, with the largest amount of income, the family occupy two filthy, damp, unwholesome cellars, one of which is a back place without pavement or flooring of any kind, occupied by the loom of the family, and used as a sleeping-room for the married couple and single daughter. In a dwelling-house, Stove-street, one sitting-room, one kitchen and two bed-rooms, rent 4s. per week. A poor widow, with a daughter also a widow, with ten children, making together 13 in family; 1l. 6s. per week, averaging 2s. per head per week. Here there is every appearance of cleanliness and comfort.
3. 3.
John Salt, of Carr Bank (labourer), wages 12s. per week; a wife, and one child aged 15: he is a drunken, disorderly fellow, and very much in debt. George Hall, of Carr Bank (labourer), wages 10s. per week; has reared ten children; he is in comfortable circumstances.
4. 4.
William Haynes, of Oakamoore (wire-drawer), wages 1l. per week; he has a wife and five children; he is in debt, and his family is shamefully neglected. John Hammonds, of Woodhead (collier), wages 18s. per week; has six children to support; he is a steady man and saving money.
5. 5.
George Locket, of Kingsley (boatman), wages 18s. per week, with a wife and seven children; his family are in a miserable condition. George Mosley, of Kingsley (collier), wages 18s. per week; he has a wife and seven children; he is saving money.
6. 6.
John Banks, of Cheadle (collier), wages 18s. per week; wife and three children; his house is in a filthy state, and the furniture not worth 10s. William Faulkner, of Tean (tape-weaver), wages 18s. per week; supports his wife and seven children without assistance.
7. 7.
William Weaver, of Kingsley (boatman), wages 18s. per week; wife and three children; he is a drunken, disorderly fellow, and his family entirely destitute. Charles Rushton, of Lightwoodfields, wages 14s. per week; he supports his wife and five children in credit.
8. 8.
Richard Barlow, of Cheadle (labourer), wages 12s. per week; wife and five children, in miserable circumstance, not a bed to lie on. William Sargeant, of Lightwoodfields (labourer), wages 13s. a-week; he has a wife and six children, whom he supports comfortably.
9. 9.
Thomas Bartlem, of Tean (labourer), wages 14s. per week; his wife earns 7s. per week; five children; he is very much in debt; home neglected. William Box, of Tean (tape-weaver), wages 18s. or 20s. per week; supports his wife in bad health, and five children.
10. 10.
Thomas Johnson, of Tean (blacksmith), wages 18s. per week; his wife earns 7s. per week; three children; he is very much in debt, and his family grossly neglected. Ralph Faulkner, of Tean (tape-weaver), wages 18s. or 20s. per week; supports a wife and five children, three of them are deaf and dumb.

Mr. Harrison, the medical officer of the Preston union, observes that—

“I have known many families whose income has exceeded 100l. a-year, who in times of sickness have been in great distress, and even some who have been obliged to have recourse to the parish for assistance. And I am acquainted with several families now of the best paid 141class of workpeople, whose total weekly earnings will average 2l., and in some cases 3l. a-week, who, should sickness overtake the head of the family, and some of the principal workers among the children, would be thrown upon the parish. I have been convinced from extensive observation, that the masters of these people have it in their power to improve the condition and happiness of their workpeople beyond what can be effected by any other agency.”

These descriptions are not confined to the English towns. Mr. Jupp and others cite instances from the rural districts. They are similarly prevalent in Scotland. As an example I would refer to the description given by Dr. Scott Alison, of the condition of the highly-paid collier population of Tranent. Take another instance of the condition of the same class, the colliers at Ayr, given by Dr. Sym, in his report on the sanitary condition of the population of that town:—

“Although the colliers have large wages, they are, from their want of economy and their dissolute habits, uniformly in poverty; and their families, though well fed, are miserably clothed, ill lodged, uneducated, and less industrious than the families of the weavers; the females of which work with great constancy at hand-sewing. The modes of living of these two classes are very different. The weaver is not intemperate, because he cannot afford to purchase ardent spirits, and the nature of his employment prevents him from having those hours of idleness during the day which the collier is so apt to consume in dissipation. He lives on very innutritious food, seldom eats butchers’ meat, and the most indigent, who are generally Irishmen, subsist chiefly on potatoes. The collier, on the other hand, indulges to excess in ardent spirits, and both he and his family partake of animal food every day. In short, the colliers live better than any of the other labouring classes in Ayr.”

Dr. Scott Alison, speaking of the colliers of Tranent, states that they obtain very high wages. “A man, his wife, and perhaps two children may earn perhaps 40s. a-week, if industriously employed during that time.” On the subject of appearances of destitution, on which medical men sometimes report, he observes—

“I have had occasion to know that medical men, judging from internal appearances of the dwellings of the labouring classes, are liable to be led into erroneous inferences as to the extent of destitution. The appearance of the place or of the person is no test of the want of means or of the highness or lowness of wages. Filth is more frequently evidence of depravity than of destitution; indeed, in places where the wages or means are really scanty, there is very frequently considerable cleanliness. If a stranger went into the house of a collier, he might exclaim, ‘What extreme wretchedness and destitution!’ when, in fact, on the Saturday they had received 30s., which before the Tuesday had all been squandered. I think medical men, who are not intimately acquainted with the character of people, are often drawn into mistakes.”

The domestic condition of this population admits of a contrast with the condition of individuals of their own description of employment, or with the condition of other classes of miners who 142receive no higher wages, but whose condition is highly superior, to show that the depraved habits and condition are not the necessary result of the employment. He contrasts the condition of the colliery population of Tranent with the condition of the agricultural labourers in the immediate vicinity of the town:—

“With very few exceptions, the condition of the interior of the houses of the hind population is excellent, most pleasing to the eye, and comfortable. These respectable people, in spite of the defective construction of their cottages, manage to throw an air of comfort, plenty, neatness, and order around their homes. I have often been delighted to observe these characteristics, and not less so to mark the co-existence of pure, moral, and religious principles in the inmates, the presence of practical religion and practical morals. When the floor wears away, it is repaired; when the walls lose their whiteness, they are whitewashed; and every few days the whole wooden furniture in the house is subjected to thorough cleansing with sand and warm water. The various articles of furniture, and the different household utensils, are kept in places allotted to them; and the earthenware and china well cleaned, are neatly arranged, and made to serve as ornaments to the apartment. The metal spoons, candlesticks, and pitchers for containing milk and water, are well burnished. The milk taken from the cow may be seen set apart in vessels kept in the nicest order; and beside them lie the churning-barrel and strainer. A fire sheds its cheerful influence over the scene; the kettle never wants hot water; and the honest, frugal housewife is ever discharging some household duty in a spirit of placid contentment, attending to her partner when present, or preparing his meals against his return from the fields.

“The external economy of the houses of the hinds is on the whole very good. The ground in front of the cottages is kept clean and free of impurities. The little garden, which is almost invariably connected with the cottage, is kept in good order, and is in general well cultivated.”

The like contrast, derived from an intimate knowledge of the population of another class, is presented in the following portions of a report from Mr. Wood, of Dundee:—

“There are many families among the working classes who are in the receipt of from 15s. to 22s. per week, who are insufficiently clothed, and irregularly and poorly fed, and whose houses as well as their persons appear filthy, disorderly, and uncomfortable. There are other families among them, containing the same number of persons, whose incomes average from 10s. to 14s. a-week, who are neatly, cleanly, and sufficiently clothed, regularly and suitably fed, and whose houses appear orderly and comfortable. The former class care little for the physical comfort, and far less for the intellectual, moral, and religious education of their children; in many cases, indeed, they neglect the education of their offspring when it is offered to them gratuitously, and in place of sending them to school, where they might be fitted for the duties and disappointments of life, they send them at a very early age to some employment, where they will earn the poor pittance of 1s. 6d. to 3s. a-week. The latter class, on the contrary, are most anxious to give their children a good education: they study to obtain it for them by 143every means in their power, and they pay for it most cheerfully. The former class again grasp at every benefit which the charitable institutions of the place have provided for the poor. When, for example, medical attendance is given them gratuitously, they not unfrequently despise and refuse it, unless medicines are given them gratuitously also. Whereas the latter description of families are not only ready and willing to pay for medicines when prescribed to them, but they generally manifest much gratitude, and very often present their medical attendant with a small fee.

“Now it is among the former class of families where generally there appears to me to be a deficiency of wholesome food and of warm clothing; where contagious, febrile diseases are most commonly found; and from whence they are most extensively propagated. Fever is no doubt found among the latter, more frugal, and therefore better conditioned families, but seldom of that malignant, contagious character which it invariably assumes among the other class of families. Here, then, we have on the one hand, filth, destitution, and disease, associated with good wages; and on the other, cleanliness, comfort, and comparative good health, in connexion with wages which are much lower. The difference in the amount of their incomes does not account for the difference in the amount of comfort which is found existing among the working classes. The statements just made make known the fact, that above a certain amount, say 12s. or 14s. of weekly income, wages alone, without intelligence and good habits, contributes nothing towards the comfort, health, and independence of the working population. * * * Were I asked how I would propose to relieve such a family, I would say, show them how they may live comfortably within their incomes; let them be taught and trained to habits of industry, frugality, sobriety, cleanliness, &c., and with this 12s. or 14s. they may live in health and happiness as others in similar circumstances have lived and are now living. The man who maintains himself and his family in comfort on 12s. or 14s. of weekly income, possesses what he well deserves, happiness at home, and he stands forth in his neighbourhood a noble example of honest independence. I am persuaded that the filth, fever, and destitution in many families is occasioned, not by their small incomes, but by a misapplication or a prodigal waste of a part, in some cases a great part, of their otherwise sufficient wages. Frequently cases are found where, with a want of skill and economy, there is combined the intemperate use of intoxicating liquors, and here the misery may be said to be complete.

“Such is the explanation which I have to offer regarding much of the misery now prevalent, and it is the explanation invariably given by the economical working classes themselves when questioned on the subject. Heads of families, having three or four children, whose incomes average from 14s. to 18s. per week, have assured me that a man with a wife and three or four children can live comfortably on 12s. or 14s. a-week; and they generally account for the misery and destitution existing among families by saying, that many who have good wages reduce themselves to poverty and deprive themselves of sufficient food and clothing by their mismanagement, want of frugality, and drinking practices. Cases of waste and dissipation have been related to me, where the husband having gone to the tippling-house to enjoy his glass and his friend, the wife, knowing this, sent for her bottle and her friend, 144and enjoyed herself at home. A single visit to one of these spendthrift families, who are in the receipt of good wages, would convince any one that their persons and houses might be far more orderly, clean, and comfortable, were they but half trained to the tastes and habits of household industry, sobriety, and economy.”

The more closely the investigation as to the causes of epidemic disease is carried the more have the grounds been narrowed on which any presumption can be raised that it is generally occasioned by extreme indigence, or that it could be made generally to disappear simply by grants of money.

In the great mass of cases in every part of the country, in the rural districts and in the places of commercial pressure, the attacks of disease are upon those in full employment, the attack of fever precedes the destitution, not the destitution the disease. There is strong evidence of the existence of a large class of persons in severe penury in some places, as in Glasgow, being subject to fever, but the fever patients did not, as a class, present evidence of being in destitution in any of the places we examined. Dr. William Davidson, the senior physician of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, who has written a Treatise on the Sources and Propagation of Continued Fevers, for which the prize instituted by Dr. Thackeray, of Chester, was unanimously awarded at the annual meeting of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, states in that treatise, when speaking of the influence of delicacy of constitution as a predisposing cause of fever,—

“We have kept a record of the physical habit of the patients admitted into the Glasgow Fever Hospital from May 1st to November 1st, 1839, and the following were the divisions adopted:—

“1. Moderate, by which is meant a person having an ordinary quantity of muscle and cellular substance.

“2. Full or plethoric, having an extra quantity of adipose texture or of blood.

“3. Muscular.

“4. Spare.

“5. Emaciated or unhealthy in appearance.

Males. Females. Total.
Moderate 116 93 209
Full or Plethoric 28 73 101
Muscular 44   44
Spare 24 41 65
Unhealthy or Emaciated 2 8 10

“The whole of these 429 cases were characterized by the typhoid eruption, and will therefore be considered as decided cases of typhus. It appears from this table that there were only 10 cases in an emaciated or unhealthy condition; and almost all of them, as far as could be ascertained, 145were engaged in their ordinary occupations at the time of their seizure. The spare and unhealthy, when added together, only form about 17 per cent. of the whole number.”

He gives two tables of the proportionate numbers of persons admitted, during the year 1839, into the Glasgow Fever Hospital, whose persons were clean or filthy:—

“These two tables show that, among 611 cases admitted as continued fever, there were 340 filthy and 271 clean, or about 55 per cent. filthy; that among 395 cases of eruptive typhus, there were 245 filthy and 150 clean, or about 62 per cent. filthy; and that among 48 cases of febricula there were 14 filthy and 34 clean, or about 29 per cent. filthy.”

Amongst the fever patients are found a larger proportion of the highly intemperate than appear to be usually found amongst the labouring classes.

Dr. Davidson, in remarking on the influence of intemperance on fever, adduces the following table to show the proportion of temperate and intemperate individuals who were admitted into the Glasgow Fever Hospital from November 1st, 1838, to November 1st, 1839, whose habits could be ascertained with more or less certainty. He states that the eruptive cases only are included:—

Temperate. A little Intemperate. Intemperate.
Typhus (Males) 125 51 73
Typhus (Females) 76 8 30

I have been informed that those were classed as “temperate” who never indulged in strong liquors to the extent of inebriety; those a “little intemperate” who now and again, perhaps at long intervals, drank to intoxication; and those as “intemperate” who were habitually so—who drank whenever they could get ardent spirits.

He adds,—

“In the Glasgow Fever Hospital there occurred 81 deaths from eruptive typhus in individuals whose habits were ascertained, and 34 of these were reported as intemperate, 19 a little intemperate, and 28 temperate. In Dr. Craigie’s table of the deaths in 31 fever cases that occurred in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, there were 15 stated to be irregular or dissipated; only two regular; the habits of the remainder are not stated.

“It is also a singular fact, which has been noticed by several writers, that fever is more fatal among the higher than among the lower classes. Dr. Braken states, in reference to the fever which prevailed at Waterford during the years 1817–18–19, that ‘it would be difficult to adjust the rates of mortality in the upper classes, but it seems probable that one-fourth, or perhaps one-third of all those persons who were attacked with fever fell victims to its power.’

“Drs. Barker and Cheyne, in their historical account of the Irish epidemic, state that, ‘in every part of the country, fever was reported to have been much more fatal amongst the upper than the lower classes.’ To what is this difference of mortality, so generally remarked by experienced hospital physicians, to be attributed, and 146which in Ireland seemed to be very remarkable, namely, in the lower classes about one in twenty-three cases, and in the upper classes one in three or four generally, but in other places about one in seven? Can the difference in the mode of living account for this anomaly? as the first live very much on potatoes, while the others use a larger or smaller proportion of animal food; and the lower classes almost everywhere in this country use less animal food and stimulating dishes than those who are more wealthy and in a higher sphere of society.”

In remarking on the supposed influence of fear and the depressing passions in producing fever, Dr. Davidson, however, remarks:—

“The influence of fear and the depressing passions has also been considered as very powerful in predisposing persons to be affected with typhus contagion. There can be no doubt that fear has a tendency to produce a temporary depression of the physical powers; but, as has been already shown, there is no proof that persons of a naturally spare or weak habit of body, who are generally very sensitive, are more liable to fever than those of an ordinary constitution; this opinion must also be considered hypothetical. Indeed the facts, as far as our inquiries have enabled us to judge, seem to prove that the apprehension of fever, more particularly when it is not epidemic, is very rarely felt until the person is actually seized with the disease; for some cannot recollect of a single circumstance by which they could be exposed to contagion; and a considerable number of those who had undoubtedly been exposed to it were only made aware of the fact when it had been elicited by cross-examination. We are quite aware that cases may be brought forward of sensitive individuals who have been seized with fever soon after visiting a person labouring under the disease; but as this fact can be opposed with at least an equal number of persons who were destitute of fear, and yet caught it after an exposure to contagion, no conclusion whatever can be drawn from them. It must be observed, however, that though there is no proof that persons who are naturally weak in body or of a sensitive disposition are more susceptible of fever than those who are naturally vigorous and robust, yet that, during famine or commercial distress, poverty, by depressing the mind and lowering the physical status from insufficient aliment, does powerfully predispose a community to become affected with fever. This has been already shown in a former part of the essay, and has been again alluded to in order that the distinction might be made between an individual of naturally weak mental and physical stamina, and one who has been reduced to that state by deficient nutriment.”

There appears to be little evidence on one side or the other in support of this last hypothesis, other than such as that cited from Dr. Davidson himself; but it is to be observed that the wet or bad seasons, which suspend agricultural industry and much labour in the towns, is usually of a character of itself to predispose to disease, if not to produce it; and that it does propagate it amongst all classes, high and low, in proportion to their exposure to it. It appears to be highly probable that the privation attendant on the stoppage of work, by diminishing the means for 147the purchase of fuel, of soap, &c., and in various ways by inducing lax habits of life, may increase the amount of exposure to and loss from the all-pervading cause.

The preponderant evidence given on this subject by the great majority of the medical officers in England who are accustomed to visit the labouring classes in their own dwellings, is however of the tenor of the following from the medical officer of the Whitechapel union acting in Spitalfields parish.

Mr. Byles, the medical officer of the Whitechapel union:—

“What is the number of cases you have had to visit during the year 1841 as a medical officer?—I think the number of cases I have had to visit during each year since the commencement of the Union has been upwards of 2,000 cases of various disease, of which 1,400 were cases out of the workhouse.

“Has the present winter been unhealthy?—I do not think it has; there has been an increase of fever cases during the last month. The number of cases is, however, still below the average of 1838.

“Is there not, however, unusual distress in your district, comprehending Spitalfields and a portion of Whitechapel?—Yes, there is: I believe that more than half the looms are out of work.

“Do you not find that fever attacks in greatest number those who are out of work?—On the contrary, the greatest number of the cases of fever we have are those who fall ill during the time they are in employment. I think they are more attacked when in work, when the windows are closed, and there is no ventilation. Many of them are obliged to work with closed windows, to keep out the moist air, and prevent the dust blowing upon their work. When they are out of work, they are more out of doors looking after work, more in the open air, and that very exercise may be the means of keeping them in health. This observation applies to the weavers. I find that they have generally less fever when they are out of work. The reverse, I think, holds as respects out-door labourers, such as those who work at the docks. When they are out of work, they stand about waiting in the cold, and when cold, they generally take cheap gin, and no food: they catch cold, and on going to their close filthy habitations, their cold is apt to generate fever.

“There was an unusual amount of fever prevalent in Spitalfields and Whitechapel, was there not, in the year 1838?—Yes, there was; in the proportion, perhaps, of more than two to one of the present amount. My last account for the year ending Lady-day, 1842, was about 250 fever cases; it has been as high as 800.

“Did it prevail proportionately amongst the weavers?—Yes, I believe it did.

“Was there any marked or unusual distress at that period?—Not that I remember.

“Do you find in the course of your experience that the diminution of food is followed by fever?—Not as a general cause, I should say. If these two persons, casually exposed to the contagion of fever, the one in full vigour, and with a full stomach, the other with an empty stomach, the person with the empty stomach would be the most obnoxious to its influence. In my experience, however, intemperance is a much more frequent antecedent to fever than destitution or want of food.

148“Have you ever observed that habits of intemperance are created by distress of mind?—Such cases may occur, but I have not observed them, and I think it does not operate as a general cause.

“What are the chief remedies which your experience in this district would lead you to recommend for the prevention of fever and contagious diseases?—The promotion of cleanly habits amongst the poor; the promotion of sewerage and drainage; having proper supplies of water laid on in the houses; the removal of privies from improper situations. I could point out in our neighbourhood many houses, and some courts, that ought to be pulled down as wholly unfit for human habitation.

“What is the personal state of the labouring classes in your district?—Generally extremely filthy. I have said that I could almost smell from what street a man came who came to my surgery: I do not think the poor themselves are conscious of it, but the smell to other persons must be extremely offensive. I certainly think that the want of personal cleanliness, and of cleanliness in their rooms, and the prevalence of fever, stand in the relation of cause and effect.

“Your colleague has pointed out that the want of proper and convenient supplies of water is an antecedent to the filth and the fever. Does your experience enable you to concur with him?—My experience entirely agrees with his on that point.”

The late Dr. Cowan, of Glasgow, and the great majority of the medical officers, assign the foremost place to these physical agencies as antecedents to fever.

The medical controversy as to the causes of fever; as to whether it is caused by filth and vitiated atmosphere, or whether the state of the atmosphere is a predisposing cause to the reception of the fever, or the means of propagating that disease, which has really some other superior, independent, or specific cause, does not appear to be one that for practical purposes need be considered, except that its effect is prejudicial in diverting attention from the practical means of prevention.

Dr. Bancroft, one of the controversialists cited by Dr. Davidson, observes,—

“That fever often exists in them” (gaols) “cannot be denied; but this circumstance can afford no evidence of its being generated therein, any more than the multiplication of vermin in such places could demonstrate the spontaneous generation of these and other insects by the nastiness which favours the deposition and hatching of their eggs.”

Taking the controversy at this point, and admitting the force of this statement, the decision upon it will not alter the practical value of cleanliness, or of its protective effects in prevention, whether it remove an original or only a predisposing cause.

Yet it cannot but be regretted that the enlightened force of the professional opinion should sustain any diminution from an apparent want of unanimity on so important a question as the necessity of removing these causes, whether original or predisposing: that, for example, whilst the fleets were ravaged by fever and disease, men of high standing should have occupied the attention 149of the public with speculations on contagion, and infection from the gaols as the original cause, and diverted attention from the means of prevention, cleansing and ventilation, the means by which, as will hereafter be shown, the pestilence was ultimately banished. The main error of those who have ascribed fever to destitution, appears to have been in adopting too hastily as evidence of the fact of destitution, such primâ facie appearances as are noticed by Dr. Scott Alison, an error which non-professional experience may correct. In more than one instance where, in a district in which the demand for labour was still great, and the wages high, benevolent gentlemen have propounded similar doctrines, which, being at variance with the known state of the labour-market, I have requested that the names of these fever cases might be given, that their antecedent circumstances might be examined, and the accuracy of the conclusions tested, by officers of experience in such investigations; but I think it right to state the names or means of inquiry have never been forthcoming. In general, medical practitioners and benevolent individuals are extremely liable to deceive themselves and to deceive others, by what they call the evidence of their own eyes. The occurrence of severe destitution is denied as a general cause of fever, not as a consequence. The evidence shows that the best means of preventing the consequent destitution are those which prevent the attacks of fever and other epidemics upon all classes of the community.

By an extract from a report of the late Dr. Currie, of Liverpool, given in the Appendix, it will be seen that at the time he wrote, 1797, when only 9500 of the population are reported to have lived in cellars, the proportion of fever cases was nearly the same as at present, when the cellar population has risen to 40,000; the disease has been almost as constant as the surrounding physical circumstances of bad ventilation, filth, and damp then pointed out as removable, and the disease has continued in every period of the prosperity of the town in its progress from a population of 77,000 to 223,000 in 1841. So the late Dr. Ferriar, of Manchester, when writing between 30 and 40 years ago, of the state of the population in periods of great prosperity, especially for hand-loom weaving, described the effect of the bad economy of the habitations much as they were described in the year 1829 by Dr. Kay, and as they are described in 1840 by Dr. Baron Howard. Dr. Ferriar, when he wrote to warn the labouring classes as to the choice of their dwellings, stated that—

“The custom of inhabiting cellars also tends to promote both the origin and preservation of febrile infection. But even in them the action of filth and confined air is always apparent when fevers arise. I have often observed that the cellar of a fever patient was to be known by a shattered pane, patched with paper or stuffed with rags, and by every external sign of complete dirtiness.”

The false opinions as to destitution being the general cause of 150fever, and as to its propagation, have had extensively the disastrous effect of preventing efforts being made for the removal of the circumstances which are proved to be followed by a diminution of the pestilence.

The opinion of the majority of the medical officers of the unions in England on this topic, acting in districts in every condition, might be expressed in the terms used by Dr. Davidson:—

“It has already been shown that filth and deficient ventilation tend much to spread the contagion of typhus, being almost constant concomitants; and that while it generally affects the whole members, or the large proportion of a family among the lower orders, it rarely spreads in this manner among the better classes of society, who attend more to cleanliness and ventilation. It is quite obvious that an amelioration of the physical condition of the lower orders, in these particulars, would, in proportion as this was effected, diminish their chances of catching the contagion, which would not only operate in lessening directly its diffusion, but by reducing the number of its sources, must tend to lessen the actual quantity of this principle that might be generated in a given time.

“But can this amelioration be effected to any appreciable extent; or, if effected, could it be maintained for any length of time? We fear that little permanent amelioration could be effected without a legislative enactment; for though our philanthropists are very active in their charities during the prevalence of an epidemic, it no sooner subsides than they relapse into a comparative quiescence, and our working population into their former habits of filth and intemperance. And the evil will continue to assail us so long as our cities contain so many narrow and filthy lanes, so long as the houses situated there are little better than dens or hovels, so long as dunghills and other nuisances are allowed to accumulate in their vicinity, so long as these hovels are crowded with inmates, and so long as there is so much poverty and destitution. Why, then, should we not have a legislative enactment that would level these hovels to the ground—that would regulate the width of every street—that would regulate the ventilation of every dwelling-house—that would prevent the lodging-houses of the poor from being crowded with human beings, and that would provide for their destitution? It may be said that this would interfere too much with the liberty of the subject, and no doubt it would be vehemently opposed by many interested persons. In place, however, of being an infringement on the liberty of the subject, it might rather be designated an attempt to prevent the improper liberties of the subject; for what right, moral or constitutional, has any man to form streets, construct houses, and crowd them with human beings, so as to deteriorate health and shorten life, because he finds it profitable to do so? As well ought the law to tolerate the sale of unwholesome food because it might be profitable to the retailer of it.”

But the professional experience and weight of professional testimony on this subject is not confined to this country. In a report prepared under the superintendence of a commission of the Royal 151Academy of Medicine at Paris,[16] appointed to investigate the epidemics prevalent in France, similar general conclusions are announced upon similar evidence adduced, of which we select the following instance:—

“If an example,” says the report, “be necessary to justify this placing of circumstances as cause and effect, we shall find one in the terrible epidemic which desolated the commune of Prades, in the department of Ariège, at the end of the year 1838. Out of 750 healthy and vigorous inhabitants of this commune 310 were attacked with the disease, and 95 died, thus the deaths were 1 in every 3¼ cases. The cause of this epidemic, violent and sudden in its nature, and which broke out in all points at once, is not less evident. It proceeded from a sewer, the receptacle of all the water from the neighbourhood, and of the filth which the water brought with it, and of the dead animals of the district. The hot, damp weather which preceded it no doubt augmented the activity of this focus of infection. The first persons attacked were the women employed in washing linen in this pestiferous pool, and the labourers working in the neighbourhood of it. This terrible epidemic recurred three times, which the invalids in their simplicity attributed to the influence of the moon, but which mainly depended upon the wind at certain periods passing over the infected pool, and bringing the miasma in the direction of their dwellings. If for want of sufficient description it is not possible to prove completely the similarity of the epidemic at Prades with the typhus fever, yet it may be inferred from the symptoms, viz. that when the skin was broken deep sores were formed, and that serous abscesses showed themselves in the lymphatic ganglions, that this disease was very similar to the ancient putrid and malignant fevers formerly described by authors, and which are entirely replaced in our nosology by the typhoid affection. The physicians of Ariège, in order to prove that the disease was not contagious, and to re-assure the inhabitants, lay in the beds from which the invalids had been removed.”

Adverting to the local reports they have received, the Commissioners state—“These reports have awakened in us the sad conviction that many localities are quite devoid of even the most simple ideas on public health; the inhabitants live surrounded by marshes, drains, stagnant pools, manure heaps, without having the slightest idea of the dangers they are incurring. Indeed, many of them blindly speculate in these heaps of infection, increasing the manure which is to enrich their fields at the expense of their health, and often of their lives.”

The Commissioners observe,—“Most of the improvements in public health have been brought about through the experience and science united in our large cities; so much so that now epidemics often come to us from the rural districts. These epidemics are generally much less fatal than formerly, but are still very prevalent even in the wealthiest and the most civilized departments. 152It would be an important problem to solve, what are the causes which produce these epidemics in the agricultural as well as in the manufacturing counties, as in ancient Normandy and Picardy. One cause is certainly the unhealthiness of the houses. The inhabitants of these districts are, in general, well fed, well clothed, but ill lodged. We are surprised to find in the midst of a fertile plain wide districts covered with luxuriant vegetation, villages buried in the ground, smothered with large trees, and cottages constructed without any art or plan, and almost entirely without windows.” The Commissioners state, further,—“If you wish to have a robust and healthy people, you must have a care for their physical education, their houses, and their modes of living. Do not allow generation after generation to be depressed under the evil effects of recurring epidemics, which must eventually ruin the strongest constitutions, as is seen to be the case in marshy and ill-drained districts, where fevers, goitres, and scrofulas constantly prevail.”

In another report made on the proceedings of the Conseil de Salubrité, the diseases prevalent amongst the population in the towns is adverted to:—“We must be like the men so well painted by the Psalmist, to reject such evidence—eyes have they, and see not. How shall we explain, or rather to what shall we attribute the difference that is remarked between the mortality of one quarter and that of another quarter of the same town; of one street and that of another street of the same quarter or of the same village; or, lastly, the difference that is observed in this respect between the houses of the same street and those houses which are completely isolated? Misery, it is replied to us, is the cause. Yes, without doubt, misery is a powerful cause; but it is so especially when it is driven back into the most insalubrious quarters, streets, and houses; when it lives habitually in the midst of filth and dirt, that is to say, in the midst of an infected atmosphere; and when there is no misery, or when it exists in the same degree in the quarters, in the villages, in the streets, and in the houses with which the comparison is made; and, stronger still, when poverty is met with precisely there where there is the least mortality; in what is to be found the cause of this difference, if it is not in the insalubrity of the dwelling-places?”

The report on the local epidemics concludes by earnestly recommending to the government—“That sanitary measures be adopted by means of which the constitution of the people may be renewed, and their longevity increased. If this recommendation be fulfilled, we may then hope to see the condition of some of the departments ameliorated, in which now the population is so degenerated that the men seem to diminish in size each time they are measured for the conscriptions.”

Evidence on the mismanagement of expenditure in respect to supplies of food, on mismanagement also in respect to clothing 153and fuel by the labouring classes, might be added to complete the view of the principal causes of disease prevalent amongst them, but these do not come within the immediate scope of the present inquiry, which has been directed chiefly to the investigation of the evils affecting their sanitary condition, that come within the recognized provinces of legislation or local administration.

The information on the means for the prevention of epidemic disease arising in the common lodging-houses maintained for the accommodation of trampers and vagrants, might also have been considered in connexion with the subject of the effects of overcrowding and filth which they strongly exemplify; but it appeared most convenient to consider them apart, from the exposition of what may be termed the indigenous evils that afflict the settled inhabitants of the labouring class.

I would now submit for consideration, 1st, the total expense of the present state of things, so far as a proximate view of it can be obtained, on the health, strength, and life of the lower classes of the population. 2d, a proximate view of the pecuniary expense of such partial remedies as are at present applied or applicable to alleviate the consequences of these preventable diseases.


Very dangerous errors arise from statistical returns and insurance tables of the mean chances of life made up from gross returns of the mortality prevalent amongst large classes, who differ widely in their circumstances. Thus we find, on inquiry into the sanitary condition of the population of different districts, that the average chances of life of the people of one class in one street will be 15 years, and of another class in a street immediately adjacent, 60 years. In one district of the same town I find, on the examination of the registries, the mortality only 1 out of every 57 of the population; and in another district 1 out of every 28 dies annually. A return of the average or the mean of the chances of life, or the proportions of death in either instance, would and does lead to very dangerous errors, and amongst others to serious misapprehensions as to the condition of the inferior districts, and to false inferences as to the proper rates of insurance. With the view of arriving at some estimate of the comparative extent of the operation of the chief causes of sickness and mortality proved to be prevalent, amidst the different classes of society, in the towns where the sanitary inquiries have been made; I have obtained the following returns from the clerks of the several unions acting as superintendent registrars. These returns have, as far as practicable, been corrected by particular local inquiry, and are submitted as the best approximations that can readily be obtained. In all districts, and especially in the manufacturing districts, there is some migration of labourers which would, for the obtainment 154of perfect accuracy as to the chances of life in particular localities, have rendered necessary an examination of every individual case enumerated. This extent of labour has been considered unnecessary. In the returns from single towns, the numbers of deaths of persons of the first class are too small not to be affected by accidental disturbances, but when large numbers of the like class are taken, the uniform operation of the like circumstances are shown in the like results. It is at present a general defect of the important head of information, “the occupation of the deceased,” that the deaths of masters are not carefully distinguished from the deaths of journeymen. So far as this error prevails, it will tend to raise the apparent chances of life amongst the labouring classes. In some instances the occupations of the deceased, or of the parents of the deceased, in the case of children, are not described in the registries. With these and possibly with other defects that may have escaped notice, these returns will be received as corroborative of the reports of the medical officers and physicians who have attended and observed many of the individual cases themselves, though not enumerated by them. Had the mortality prevalent amongst workpeople of particular trades and their families been taken, instead of the mean chances of persons of all occupations deriving subsistence from weekly wages, the case of classes with still lower chances would have been presented; but these would have appeared to suggest particular remedies. Such returns of the effects of common evils were therefore taken as appeared applicable to the consideration of common or general means of prevention.

One of the first returns obtained is from Dr. Barham, as to the different rates of mortality in Truro:—

“The information derived from the registers of deaths and sickness has been arranged in a series of tables.[17] The first gives a return of the condition in life, average ages, and the causes of death, with respect to all who died in Truro from July 1st, 1837, to December 31st, 1840. The occupation of the deceased not being stated in the register, except in the case of adult males, the condition of others has been inferred in the majority of cases from that of the parent or husband, in many from my own knowledge of the parties, and in others from the place of abode or other collateral evidence. Altogether I am confident that the statement is not materially erroneous.”

The sum of these several returns was as follows:—

No. of Deaths. Truro. Average Age of Deceased.
33 Professional persons or gentry, and their families 40 years.
138 Persons engaged in trade, or similarly circumstanced, and their families 33
447 Labourers, artisans, and others similarly circumstanced, and their families 28

155In Derby the proportions appear to be as exhibited in the following table:—

No. of Deaths. Derby. Average Age of Deceased.
10 Professional persons or gentry 49 years.
125 Tradesmen 38
752 Labourers and artisans 21

To compare the chances of life between a crowded manufacturing population and a less crowded rural population, I selected the county of Rutland, because it had been selected as an average agricultural district for a comparison as to its general condition by the members of the Statistical Society of Manchester, and they deputed their agent, Mr. J. R. Wood, to make inquiries on an examination from house to house. The following are portions of his examination:—

“Amidst what population have you inquired from house to house?—Amidst a portion of the population of Manchester, viz. Pendleton, having a population of about 10,000; I visited every house. In like manner I went through Branstoun, Engleton, and Hambleton, in Rutlandshire, being a rural population of upwards of 1,000, and Hull, having a population of nearly 40,000, exclusive of Sculcoates, Ashton, and Dukinfield. I also went over for the purpose of checking an inquiry into the state of the population of those towns, which had been previously made by another party. In Liverpool I did not go from house to house; I went into a considerable number of the houses amidst the poorer districts. In certain districts of Manchester, though not for the Statistical Society, I did the same. In Birmingham I made many memoranda, and, as far as my limited time would permit, I visited a portion of the population. In York, containing a population of 26,000, I went into every street and court, visiting occasionally, to obtain a general idea of the condition of the inhabitants. York included 23 parishes of small extent, all which I visited.

“What did you find to be the condition of the tenements in the rural districts as compared with the towns you examined?—In Branstoun, Egleton, and Hambleton, being in a rural district, the houses are low, never exceeding two stories; many of them are thatched, and nearly all are built of stone. To each a garden is attached, which is generally of sufficient dimensions to supply the family with vegetables. As there are no cellars, most of the houses have a small dairy or store-room attached, which, however, has not been counted in reckoning the number of rooms in each house. Forty-one per cent. of the dwellings in Branstoun, and 51 per cent. in Egleton and Hambleton I found to be “well furnished.” In Manchester and Salford 52 per cent., and in the Dukinfield district 61 per cent., had that character. The proportion reported to be comfortable in each district were:—

“In Branstoun 50 per cent.
Egleton and Hambleton 65 per cent.
Manchester, &c. 72 per cent.
Dukinfield 95 per cent.

“The word ‘comfortable’ must always be a vague and varying 156epithet, nor is it possible to attach any precise definition to it. In filling up this column I was guided by observing the condition of the dwelling, apart from any consideration of order, cleanliness, and furniture. If I considered it capable of being made comfortable for the tenant, I set it down accordingly; if it were damp, the flooring bad, and the walls ill-conditioned, I reported it uncomfortable. The general appearance of the interior of the houses (in Rutlandshire) indicated thrifty poverty, and instances of the squalid misery so frequent in large towns were here extremely rare. In comparing the physical condition of the people in the three parishes, Egleton and Hambleton appeared to have some slight advantage over Branstoun, while 31 per cent. of the houses in the former parishes contained four rooms only; 17 per cent. in the latter had this advantage. In its amount of sleeping accommodation, also Branstoun is inferior to the neighbouring parishes.

“From a comparison of the tables with those in a former Report, it appeared that in Egleton, &c., 14 per cent. of the families have more than three persons to a bed; Branstoun, 19 ditto; Dukinfield, 33 ditto; and Bury, 35 ditto.

“The rents of the houses in Rutlandshire would appear to be very low compared with those in large manufacturing towns. Not only is the average cost of the former less than half of the latter, but for that diminished cost the dimensions of the houses are double those in large towns, with comforts and conveniences which the latter never can possess.

£. s. d.
“Egleton, &c., average yearly rent 2 17 3
Branstoun 3 0 0
Dukinfield, &c. 6 14 0
Manchester, &c. 7 11 8”

But moral causes, inducing habits of sobriety, appear from the report of the Manchester Society to contribute to the general result of the superior condition of the Rutland population, in which the duration of life amongst the lowest classes appears to be nearly as high as amongst the highest classes in Manchester. Wages in Lancashire, it must be premised, were then (in 1837), and, as I am well informed from the payers of several thousand labourers, are now at least double what they are in Rutlandshire. The Society state in their report that it appears—

“That the people do nearly as much for themselves in Rutlandshire as they do in Manchester, notwithstanding the more extensive endowment of their schools.

“In a separate examination of three parishes in Rutlandshire, carried on from house to house, the larger attendance of children at school in that county was confirmed, and it also appeared that the average time of their remaining at day schools was greater than in Lancashire. In Pendleton, near Manchester, one third only of the children appeared to remain at school above five years, and one third remained less than three years; while, in the three parishes of Rutlandshire which were visited, it was found that, of the children who had left school, one half had remained there above five years.

“The teachers generally bear irreproachable characters, which has 157doubtless much influence on the character and deportment of the population, whose manners appeared exceedingly orderly and respectful.

“In the dame schools it was very gratifying to observe the marked difference in general appearance and order, as compared with schools of a similar class in large towns. The mistresses are almost invariably persons of good moral character, of quiet orderly habits, cleanly in their habitations, decent in their personal appearance, and of respectful deportment. The scholars, too, except in one or two instances, were found clean and tidy, however mean their attire, and generally remained orderly and quiet during the visit. The rod or cane is much less in use than in the towns formerly examined, though it usually forms part of the furniture of the school. The girls were generally found sewing or knitting, and in many schools the boys learn to knit.

“A society for the promotion of industry, supported by subscriptions, exist in the county; and prizes are given to those children, who, according to their age, have performed the most work during the year. This excites a great competition as to which village shall produce the queen of the knitters, or the queen of the sewers, and many ladies in the county consider the Society to have great influence in inducing habits of diligence and order. The moral effect is no doubt good, and a greater interest in the lower class of schools is also thereby created amongst the gentry.

“In conclusion, we may observe that the visitation of the houses of the labouring poor in Rutlandshire, and the observation of their language, manners, and habits, leave a favourable impression with regard to their moral condition. Swearing and drunkenness are far from common, and the general conduct of the people is marked by sobriety, frugality, and industry.”

Mr. Wood was asked—

“You have seen the following returns of the average ages of death amongst the different classes of people in Manchester and Rutlandshire:—

Average Age of Death.
In Manchester.
In Rutlandshire.
“Professional persons and gentry, and their families 38 52
Tradesmen and their families, (in Rutlandshire, farmers and graziers are included with shopkeepers) 20 41
Mechanics, labourers, and their families 17 38

Bearing in mind the fact that wages are nearly double in Manchester to the average of wages in Rutlandshire, though rents are higher in Manchester: are the different chances of life amongst each class of the population to the extent they are indicated by the returns, conformable to what you would have anticipated from your personal examinations of the houses and observation of the condition of the inhabitants?—They are decidedly conformable to my anticipation in the general results. I apprehend, however, that some allowance must perhaps be made for the very high average age in Rutlandshire, from the circumstance that many of the children or young people migrate from thence to manufacturing neighbourhoods for employment. These would certainly have passed the age at which the greatest mortality takes place amongst children; 158but we may expect that their migration, as it is a constant migration, might to some extent increase the average age of death or apparent duration of life in Rutlandshire, though not very materially. On the other hand, there is, perhaps, a larger proportion of children in Manchester. The results certainly correspond with my own impressions as to the relative condition of the different classes in the different neighbourhoods.”

In the union comprehending the adjacent manufacturing district of Bolton, the proportions of deaths in the several classes as returned by the superintendent-registrar were as follows in the year 1839:—

No. of Deaths. Bolton Union. Average Age of Deceased.
103 Gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and their families 34 years.
381 Tradesmen and their families 23
2,232 Mechanics, servants, labourers, and their families 18

It is proper to observe, that so far as I was informed upon the evidence received in the Factory Inquiry, and more recently on the cases of children of migrant families, that opinion is erroneous which ascribes greater sickness and mortality to the children employed in factories than amongst the children who remain in such homes as these towns afford to the labouring classes. However defective the ventilation of many of the factories may yet be, they are all of them drier and more equably warm than the residence of the parent; and we had proof that weakly children have been put into the better-managed factories as healthier places for them than their own homes. It is an appalling fact that, of all who are born of the labouring classes in Manchester, more than 57 per cent. die before they attain five years of age; that is, before they can be engaged in factory labour, or in any other labour whatsoever.

Of 4,629 deaths of persons of the labouring classes who died in the year 1840 in Manchester, the numbers who died were at the several periods as follows:—

Under 5 years of age 2,649 or 1 in 17
Above 5 and under 10 215 or 1 in 22
Above 10 and under 15 107 or 1 in 43
Above 15 and under 20 135 or 1 in 34

At seven, eight, or nine years of age the children of the working classes begin to enter into employment in the cotton and other factories. It appears that, at the period between 5 and 10 years of age the proportions of deaths which occur amongst the labouring classes, as indicated by these returns, are not so great as the proportions of deaths which occur amongst the children of the middle classes who are not so engaged. Allowing for the circumstance that some of the weakest of the labourers’ children will have been swept away in the first stage, the effect of employment 159is not shown to be injurious in any increase of the proportion who die in the second stage.

In a return obtained from a district differently situated (Bethnal Green, where the manufactory is chiefly domestic) it appears that of 1,268 deaths amongst the labouring classes in the year 1839, no less than 782, or 1 in 14
, died at their own residences under 5 years of age. One in 15 of the deaths occurred between 5 and 10, the age when employment commences. The proportion of deaths which occurred between 10 and 15, the period at which full employment usually takes place, is 1 in 60 only.

In that district the average age of deaths in the year 1839 was as follows, in the several classes, from a population of 62,018:—

No. of Deaths. Bethnal Green. Average Age of Deceased.
101 Gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and their families 45 years.
273 Tradesmen and their families 26
1,258 Mechanics, servants, and labourers, and their families 16

The mean chances of life amongst the several classes in Leeds appear from the returns to the Registrar-general generally to correspond with the anticipations raised by the descriptions given of the condition of the labouring population.

No. of Deaths. Leeds Borough. Average Age of Deceased.
79 Gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and their families 44 years.
824 Tradesmen, farmers, and their families 27
3,395 Operatives, labourers, and their families 19

But in Liverpool (which is a commercial and not a manufacturing town) where, however, the condition of the dwellings are reported to be the worst, where, according to the report of Dr. Duncan, 40,000 of the population live in cellars, where 1 in 25 of the population are annually attacked with fever,—there the mean chances of life appear from the returns to the Registrar-general to be still lower than in Manchester, Leeds, or amongst the silk weavers in Bethnal Green. During the year 1840, the deaths, distinguishable in classes, were as follows:—

No. of Deaths. Liverpool, 1840. Average Age of Deceased.
137 Gentry and professional persons, &c. 35 years.
1,738 Tradesmen and their families 22
5,597 Labourers, mechanics, and servants, &c. 15

Of the deaths which occurred amongst the labouring classes, it appears that no less than 62 per cent. of the total number were deaths under five years of age. Even amongst those entered as shopkeepers and tradesmen, no less than 50 per cent. died before they attained that period. The proportion of mortality for Birmingham, where there are many insalubrious manufactories, but where the drainage of the town and the general condition of the inhabitants 160is comparatively good, was, in 1838, 1 in 40; whilst in Liverpool it was 1 in 31.

I have appended the copy of a map of Bethnal Green, made with the view of showing the proportions in which the mortality from epidemic diseases and diseases affected by localities, fell on different classes of tenements during the same year. The localities in which the marks of death (×) are most crowded are the poorest and the worst of the district; where the marks are few and widely spread, the houses and streets, and the whole condition of the population, is better. By the inspection of a map of Leeds, which Mr. Baker has prepared at my request, to show the localities of epidemic diseases, it will be perceived that they similarly fall on the uncleansed and close streets and wards occupied by the labouring classes; and that the track of the cholera is nearly identical with the tract of fever. It will also be observed that in the badly cleansed and badly drained wards to the right of the map, the proportional mortality is nearly double that which prevails in the better conditioned districts to the left.

To obtain the means of judging of the references to the localities in the sanitary returns from Aberdeen, the reporters were requested to mark on a map the places where the disease fell, and to distinguish with a deeper tint those places on which it fell with the greatest intensity. They were also requested to distinguish by different colours the streets inhabited by the higher, middle, and lower classes of society. They returned a map so marked as to disease, but stated that it had been thought unnecessary to distinguish the streets inhabited by the different orders of society, as that was done with sufficient accuracy by the different tints representing the degrees of intensity of the prevalence of fever.

In the Whitechapel union, in which the special investigation which led to the inquiry into the sanitary condition of the metropolis was first directed, the numbers were as follows in the year 1838:—

No. of Deaths. Whitechapel Union. Average Age of Deceased.
37 Gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and their families 45 years.
387 Tradesmen and their families 27
1,762 Mechanics, servants, and labourers, and their families 22

To judge of the comparative mortality amongst the average of a town population, I obtained the following returns; the one from the clerk of the Strand union, the other from the clerk of the Kensington union:—

No. of Deaths. Strand Union. Average Age of Deceased.
86 Gentry and persons engaged in professions and their families 43 years.
221 Tradesmen and their families 33
674 Mechanics, labourers, servants, and their families 24
_Sanitary Report P.L.C._ Map of BETHNAL GREEN PARISH, _Shewing the Mortality from four classes of Disease in certain localities during the year, ended 31st. Dec’r., 1838, distinguishing the Houses occupied by Weavers & Labourers & Tradesmen_.
No. of Deaths. Kensington Union. Average Age of Deceased.
331 Gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and families 44 years.
348 Tradesmen and their families 29
1,258 Labourers, artisans, and others similarly circumstanced, and their families 26

The remarkable result obtained from the examination of the mortuary registries of the county of Rutland induced me to have them examined for different periods. They have accordingly been examined for three complete years, 1838, 1839, and 1840, and it is found that the same general law of mortality obtains with little variation for each period.

As the climate or soil of that county might possess some peculiarities, I caused an examination to be made of the average periods of death amongst the agricultural population of all the unions in the county of Wilts during 1840. In this examination the registries of deaths in the towns were excluded, and only those of persons included who were described as agricultural labourers, or as farmers and graziers, or as gentry and professional persons resident in the rural districts. The results of this examination are as follow:—

No. of Deaths. Unions in the County of Wilts. Average Age of Deceased.
119 Gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and their families 50 years.
218 Farmers and their families 48
2,061 Agricultural labourers and their families 33

The following table exhibits the mortality prevalent amongst the different classes, partly mining and manufacturing, and partly agricultural, returned by the clerk of the Kendal union:—

No. of Deaths. Kendal Union. Average Age of Deceased.
52 Gentlemen and persons engaged in professions, and their families 45 years.
138 Tradesmen and their families 39
413 Operatives, labourers, servants, and their families 34

The following tables exhibit the results of such returns of mortality as have been made for quinquennial and decennial periods, from an examination of upwards of 25,000 cases for this inquiry. They show in the mean ratios for large numbers of the like class the steady influence of the different circumstances under which each class is placed. The labouring classes, it is generally known, become old the soonest, and the effects of the unfavourable influences in the adolescent and adult stages is shown in the smaller proportions who attain extreme old age, and also in the periods of the deaths of heads of families of this class, by which widowhood is produced. These last will be shown in subsequent tables.

Tabular Views of the Ages at which Deaths have occurred in Different Classes of Society.[18]
Classes. Total No. of Deaths under 20 Years of Age. Proportion of Deaths which occurred at the under-mentioned periods of Age. Proportion of Deaths under 20 Years to Total Deaths.
Between 0–5 Between 5–10 Between 10–20
Gentry and Professional Persons, Children of.          
Manchester 21 1 in 3 1 in 24 1 in 54 1 in 3
Leeds 20 1 in 5 1 in 26 1 in 40 1 in 4
Liverpool 61 1 in 3 1 in 11 1 in 23 1 in 2½
Bath 32 1 in 11 1 in 12 1 in 31 1 in 4½
Bethnal Green 33 1 in 5 1 in 20 1 in 13 1 in 3
Strand Union 21 1 in 6 1 in 29 1 in 29 1 in 4
Kendal Union 15 1 in 7 1 in 26 1 in 9 1 in 3
County of Wilts (Unions of) 25 1 in 9 1 in 40 1 in 13 1 in 5
County of Rutland (Unions of) 4 1 in 4     1 in 7
Total 232 1 in 5 1 in 19 1 in 19 1 in 3½
Farmers, Tradesmen, and Persons similarly circumstanced, Children of.          
Manchester 444 1 in 2 1 in 18 1 in 27 1 in 2
Leeds 425 1 in 2 1 in 18 1 in 18 1 in 2
Liverpool 1,033 1 in 2 1 in 19 1 in 33 1 in 1¾
Bath 78 1 in 4 1 in 24 1 in 30 1 in 3
Bethnal Green 142 1 in 2 1 in 20 1 in 28 1 in 2
Strand Union 99 1 in 3 1 in 20 1 in 25 1 in 2
Kendal Union 47 1 in 4 1 in 35 1 in 14 1 in 3
County of Wilts (Unions of) 54 1 in 7 1 in 27 1 in 15 1 in 4
County of Rutland (Unions of) 174 1 in 3 1 in 30 1 in 17 1 in 3
Total 2,496 1 in 2¼ 1 in 20 1 in 23 1 in 2
Agricultural and other Labourers, Artisans, and Servants, Children of.          
Manchester 3,106 1 in 2 1 in 22 1 in 19 1 in 1½
Leeds 2,245 1 in 2 1 in 14 1 in 14 1 in 1½
Liverpool 4,004 1 in 1½ 1 in 15 1 in 33 1 in 1¼
Bath 508 1 in 2 1 in 19 1 in 18 1 in 1¾
Bethnal Green 908 1 in 2 1 in 15 1 in 30 1 in 1½
Strand Union 367 1 in 2 1 in 14 1 in 23 1 in 2
Kendal Union 186 1 in 3 1 in 19 1 in 11 1 in 2
County of Wilts (Unions of) 954 1 in 3 1 in 21 1 in 14 1 in 2
County of Rutland (Unions of) 293 1 in 3 1 in 18 1 in 18 1 in 2¼
Total 12,571 1 in 2 1 in 17 1 in 20 1 in 1½
Classes. Total No. of Deaths between 20 and 60. Proportion of Deaths which occurred at the under-mentioned periods of Age. Proportion of Deaths from 20 Years to 60 to Total Deaths.
Between 20–30 Between 30–40 Between 40–50 Between 50–60
Gentry and Professional Persons and their Families.            
Manchester 13 1 in 18 1 in 14 1 in 18 1 in 18 1 in 4
Leeds 28 1 in 11 1 in 10 1 in 16 1 in 10 1 in 3
Liverpool 34 1 in 46 1 in 15 1 in 23 1 in 9 1 in 4
Bath 29 1 in 29 1 in 24 1 in 24 1 in 12 1 in 5
Bethnal Green 21 1 in 25 1 in 17 1 in 25 1 in 14 1 in 5
Strand Union 37 1 in 9 1 in 9 1 in 10 1 in 11 1 in 2¼
Kendal Union 18 1 in 13 1 in 13 1 in 7 1 in 17 1 in 3
County of Wilts (Unions of) 32 1 in 15 1 in 15 1 in 17 1 in 13 1 in 4
County of Rutland (Unions of) 7 1 in 14 1 in 14 1 in 14 1 in 28 1 in 4
Total 219 1 in 17 1 in 14 1 in 16 1 in 12 1 in 4
Tradesmen, Farmers, &c.            
Manchester 220 1 in 14 1 in 11 1 in 13 1 in 18 1 in 3¼
Leeds 238 1 in 12 1 in 14 1 in 14 1 in 19 1 in 3½
Liverpool 481 1 in 22 1 in 13 1 in 14 1 in 13 1 in 3½
Bath 109 1 in 11 1 in 7 1 in 9 1 in 9 1 in 2¼
Bethnal Green 92 1 in 15 1 in 11 1 in 12 1 in 11 1 in 3
Strand Union 71 1 in 16 1 in 22 1 in 10 1 in 9 1 in 3
Kendal Union 43 1 in 8 1 in 14 1 in 17 1 in 17 1 in 3
County of Wilts (Unions of) 65 1 in 22 1 in 14 1 in 10 1 in 12 1 in 3½
County of Rutland (Unions of) 108 1 in 15 1 in 16 1 in 19 1 in 19 1 in 4
Total 1,427 1 in 15 1 in 12 1 in 13 1 in 14 1 in 3½
Agricultural Labourers, Operatives, Servants, &c.            
Manchester 1,149 1 in 16 1 in 14 1 in 18 1 in 17 1 in 4
Leeds 773 1 in 14 1 in 16 1 in 20 1 in 22 1 in 4½
Liverpool 1,205 1 in 17 1 in 18 1 in 17 1 in 24 1 in 4¼
Bath 258 1 in 12 1 in 14 1 in 13 1 in 17 1 in 3
Bethnal Green 228 1 in 18 1 in 23 1 in 21 1 in 31 1 in 5½
Strand Union 212 1 in 13 1 in 12 1 in 13 1 in 13 1 in 3
Kendal Union 113 1 in 13 1 in 14 1 in 18 1 in 14 1 in 3¾
County of Wilts (Unions of) 492 1 in 13 1 in 18 1 in 18 1 in 19 1 in 4
County of Rutland (Unions of) 157 1 in 12 1 in 18 1 in 18 1 in 27 1 in 4
Total 4,587 1 in 15 1 in 17 1 in 18 1 in 20 1 in 4
Classes. Total No. of Deaths which occurred above 60. Proportion of Deaths which occurred at the under-mentioned periods of Age. Proportion of Deaths above 60 to Total Deaths.
Between 60–70 Between 70–80 Between 80–90 90 and upwards
Gentry and Professional Persons and their Families.            
Manchester 20 1 in 6 1 in 8 1 in 14   1 in 2¾
Leeds 31 1 in 7 1 in 7 1 in 13 1 in 79 1 in 2½
Liverpool 42 1 in 7 1 in 7 1 in 34   1 in 3¼
Bath 85 1 in 5 1 in 6 1 in 5 1 in 146 1 in 1¾
Bethnal Green 47 1 in 6 1 in 5 1 in 9 1 in 101 1 in 2
Strand Union 28 1 in 7 1 in 9 1 in 22 1 in 86 1 in 3
Kendal Union 19 1 in 17 1 in 7 1 in 6 1 in 52 1 in 2¾
County of Wilts (Unions of) 62 1 in 5 1 in 4 1 in 12 1 in 119 1 in 2¼
County of Rutland (Unions of) 17 1 in 9 1 in 4 1 in 6 1 in 28 1 in 1¾
Total 351 1 in 6 1 in 6 1 in 10 1 in 115 1 in 2¼
Farmers and Tradesmen, and Families.            
Manchester 61 1 in 21 1 in 38 1 in 145 1 in 242 1 in 12
Leeds 161 1 in 13 1 in 12 1 in 34 1 in 824 1 in 5
Liverpool 224 1 in 16 1 in 22 1 in 51 1 in 869 1 in 8
Bath 57 1 in 9 1 in 12 1 in 40 1 in 122 1 in 4¼
Bethnal Green 44 1 in 13 1 in 15 1 in 93 1 in 278 1 in 6¼
Strand Union 51 1 in 9 1 in 13 1 in 22   1 in 4¼
Kendal Union 48 1 in 6 1 in 10 1 in 13   1 in 3
County of Wilts (Unions of) 99 1 in 7 1 in 6 1 in 10 1 in 31 1 in 2¼
County of Rutland (Unions of) 168 1 in 8 1 in 7 1 in 9 1 in 90 1 in 2¾
Total 913 1 in 12 1 in 14 1 in 29 1 in 122 1 in 5
Agricultural Labourers, Operatives, Servants, &c.            
Manchester 374 1 in 20 1 in 43 1 in 149 1 in 772 1 in 12⅓
Leeds 377 1 in 20 1 in 23 1 in 62 1 in 485 1 in 9
Liverpool 385 1 in 27 1 in 47 1 in 102 1 in 1865 1 in 15
Bath 130 1 in 16 1 in 19 1 in 45 1 in 149 1 in 6¾
Bethnal Green 122 1 in 21 1 in 28 1 in 97 1 in 419 1 in 10¼
Strand Union 95 1 in 12 1 in 23 1 in 84 1 in 225 1 in 7
Kendal Union 114 1 in 11 1 in 9 1 in 15 1 in 207 1 in 3¾
County of Wilts (Unions of) 615 1 in 11 1 in 9 1 in 11 1 in 108 1 in 3½
County of Rutland (Unions of) 227 1 in 10 1 in 8 1 in 10 1 in 75 1 in 3
Total 2,439 1 in 18 1 in 23 1 in 43 1 in 338 1 in 8

164On comparing the proportion of deaths amongst all classes between one district and another, as well as between class and class, the general influence of the locality becomes strikingly apparent. The difference of mortality between one large district of the metropolis and another is shown in the following tabular view, made up by Mr. Alexander Finlaison, from the superintendent-registrar’s weekly returns of the mortality prevalent in the chief registration districts of the metropolis during the different seasons of the year. But the extremes of difference are more strikingly exhibited in smaller districts:—

Table of the Comparative Mortality of the Five following Divisions of the Metropolis:—
Seasons. Weeks. West District. North District. Central District. East District. South District. Whole Metropolis. Deaths in the Four Seasons out of 10,000 Persons.
Winter 13 2,127 2,588 3,064 3,227 3,542 14,548 78
Spring 13 1,611 2,066 2,264 2,264 2,682 10,887 58
Summer 13 1,486 1,817 2,064 2,220 2,458 10,045 54
Autumn 13 1,518 1,959 2,144 2,476 2,655 10,752 57
Totals 52 6,742 8,430 9,536 10,187 11,337 46,232 247
Population enumerated, 1841. 300,705 365,660 373,806 392,496 438,060 1,870,727  
Deaths out of 10,000 inhabitants 224 231 255 260 259 247  
No. of Inhabitants out of which 1 death happened 44·60 43·38 39·20 38·53 38·64 40,464  
The West District comprises
Kensington, St. George, Hanover Square, Westminster, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. James.
The North District comprises
St. Marylebone, St. Pancras, Islington and Hackney.
The Central District comprises
St. Giles and St. George, Strand, Holborn, Clerkenwell, St. Luke, East London, West Loudon, City of London.
The East District comprises
Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, St. George-in-the-East, Stepney, Poplar.
The South District comprises
St. Saviour’s, St. Olave, Bermondsey, St. George, Southwark, Newington, Lambeth, Camberwell, Rotherhithe, Greenwich.

The female is most in the house; she is the most regular and temperate in her habits; the male is subject to the influence of his place of occupation—the operative to his workshop, the clerk to the counting-house, and the merchant to crowded places of business. In the following returns made up by Mr. Farr, and in others that will hereafter be cited, the mortality prevalent amongst the females is given separately, as probably indicating most correctly the operation of the noxious influences connected with the place of residence:—

Mean Annual Mortality of Females in the following Metropolitan districts in the two Years and a half ending 31st December, 1839:—

Districts. Annual Deaths.
1 in
Hackney 57·87
St. George, Hanover Square 57·05
Camberwell 55·34
Islington 50·03
Rotherhithe 38·58
Clerkenwell 38·54
St. Luke 38·49
Greenwich 38·42
St. George, Southwark 33·77
East and West London 33·50
St. Giles and St. George 33·46
Whitechapel 28·15

166Yet it is to be observed that the best and the worst districts present striking instances of extremes of condition in the residences and the inhabitants. In the Bethnal Green and the Whitechapel unions, in which are found some of the worst conditioned masses of population in the metropolis, we also find good mansions, well drained and protected, inhabited by persons in the most favourable circumstances. Immediately behind rows of the best-constructed houses in the fashionable districts of London are some of the worst dwellings, into which the working classes are crowded; and these dwellings, by the noxious influences described, are the foci of disease. These returns are all from large parishes, containing the mean results from all classes. If it had been practicable to give correctly the average rate of mortality prevalent in different classes of streets, the variation of results, it is to be presumed, from the variations of circumstances, would have been much greater. Since the character of the residences of many of the labouring classes, and the condition of their places of work and their habits are known, it is to be considered that where the occupations are duly registered, returns, on the principle of those we have first given of the average age of death amongst particular classes will afford the most close approximation to accuracy, or the best indications of the extent of the operation of the noxious circumstances under which each of those classes is placed.[19]

of the number of Deaths in the Metropolis, from Epidemic, Endemic and Contagious disease; Diseases of the Brain, Nerves & Senses; diseases of Respiratory Organs and diseases of the Heart & Blood Vessels: also the number of Deaths from Small Pox, Scarlet Fever, Measles; Typhus Fever, Hooping Cough, and, all other Epidemic diseases, during each Four Weeks of the Two Years, ended the 1st January, 1842.
(Population of 1841.—1,870,727.)

Sanitary Report P.L.C.

167The annexed linear view of the numbers of deaths from the chief diseases during every month of two years in the metropolis will be of interest as showing the influence of the seasons, and especially of the winter, when there is the most cold, wet, and crowding.

In Scotland we have not the advantage of systematized registries of mortality or of the causes of mortality, and we are therefore unable to make the same comparisons as in England; yet so far as the records of the dispensaries serve, they are confirmatory of the returns with respect to the different rates of mortality in differently conditioned districts in England. Thus, in a report from Leith, it is stated that—

“Contagious febrile diseases of all kinds are met with in Leith, particularly typhus, which in certain seasons is prevalent to a great extent. The parts of the town in which it seems to prevail chiefly (so far as can be deduced from the records of the Leith Dispensary for the last five years) are the central and most crowded districts in which the number of cases amongst the poor during the last five years have been in the proportion of 1 to 6 of the whole population, while in other districts not so central in situation, but inhabited by persons of nearly the same class, the proportion has been not above 1 to 13 within these districts. One locality containing a population of 1579, has produced 433 cases of contagious fevers in general (of which 306 were of typhus) in dispensary practice, within five years, being in the ratio of 1 to 3⅖ of fevers in general, and 1 to 5⅙ of typhus to the gross population; of these 433 cases, 130 of all fevers, and 96 of typhus, occurred in the two narrow streets (St. Andrew’s-street and Giles’s-street) which bound the district to the north and south, the remainder in the narrow lanes and closes communicating with them. These may be regarded as the most unhealthy parts of the town.”

An impression is often prevalent that a heavy mortality is an unavoidable condition of all large towns, and of a town population in general. It has, however, been shown that, groups of cottages on a high hill, exposed to the most, salubrious breezes when cleanliness is neglected, are often the nests of fever and disease, as intense as the most crowded districts. The mortuary returns of particular districts (in the essentials of drainage, cleansing, and ventilation, to which it is practicable to make other districts approximate, and that too with reductions of existing charges), 168prove that a high degree of mortality does not invariably belong to the population of all towns, and probably not necessarily to any, even where the population is engaged in manufactures. The proportion of deaths appears in some of the suburbs of the metropolis (as at Hackney), and of Manchester and Leeds, to be lower than amongst the highest classes in two of the agricultural counties.

It appears from the report of Dr. d’Espine, one of the members of the Council of Health of Geneva, who has examined the records of the mortality prevalent amongst the population extra muros, as well as that in the city (which will hereafter be submitted to special notice), that the deaths were in the rural districts 1 in 39·3; whilst in the city they were 1 in 44·7 of the whole of the population in the year 1838. In the poorest and worst conditioned of the rural districts the proportions of the deaths were the greatest. In the year 1837 the deaths were in the poorest of the rural districts 1 in 38·6; in the intermediate district, 1 in 40·8; in the richest district, 1 in 53·2.

In comparison with the very high state of the chances of life in the county of Wilts, the city of Bath presents an example confirmatory of this view. The Rev. Whitwell Elwin has supplied the following return of the chances of life amongst the different classes in that city. Out of 616 cases of death in 1840, the results were as follow:—

No. of Deaths. Average Age of Deceased.
146 Gentlemen, professional persons, and their families 55 years.
244 Tradesmen and their families 37
896 Mechanics, labourers, and their families 25

The very high average chances of life amongst the middle classes, which is nearly the same as that of the farmers, &c. of the agricultural districts, is the fact adduced as most strongly proving the salubrity of the place.

“In making these returns,” says Mr. Elwin, “I have thrown out all visitors and occasional residents, and my knowledge of the locality, with the assistance of the clerk of the union, has enabled me to attain complete accuracy with respect to the gentry, and a close approximation to it in the remaining cases. The difference in the ages of these several classes presents to my mind a tolerably exact scale of the difference of their abodes. The large houses, the broad streets, looking almost invariably on one side or other upon parks or gardens or open country, the spacious squares, the crescents built upon the brows of the hills without a single obstruction to the pure air of heaven, give the gentry of Bath that superiority over other grades and other cities which their longevity indicates. And herein, it appears to me, consists the value of the return. It shows that the congregation of men is not of necessity unhealthy; nay, that towns, possessing as they do superior medical skill and readier access to advice, may, under favourable circumstances, have an advantage over the country. The situation of the tradesmen of Bath, inferior 169as it is to that of the gentry, is better than that of their own station in other places. The streets they chiefly inhabit, though with many exceptions, are wide, and swept by free currents of air, with houses large and well ventilated. The condition of the poor is worse than would be anticipated from the other portions of the town. They are chiefly located in low districts at the bottom of the valley, and narrow alleys and confined courts are very numerous. Yet even here we have an unquestionable advantage over most large towns. It was only yesterday that I was expressing my horror to a medical gentleman at some portions of the habitations of the poor, when he replied, that it excited little attention, because they were so much better than what was to be seen in other parts of the kingdom.

“Whatever influence occupation and other circumstances may have upon mortality, no one can inspect the registers without being struck by the deteriorated value of life in inferior localities, even where the inhabitants were the same in condition with those who lived longer in better situations. The average age of death among the gentlemen was as high as 60, till I came, at the conclusion, to a small but damp district, in which numerous cases of fever brought down the average to 54. So again with the shopkeepers, the average was reduced two by the returns from streets which, though inhabited by respectable men, were narrow in front and shut in at the back. The average among the labourers was greatly diminished by the returns from some notorious courts, and raised again in a still higher proportion by districts which appertained rather to the country than the town. Of three cases of centenarians, one of whom had attained the vast age of 106, two belonged to this favoured situation. Not but that great ages were to be found in the worst parts as in the best, or that particular streets did not in a measure run counter to the rule. Still, wherever I brought into opposition districts of considerable extent, I found the law more or less to obtain. Bath is a favourable town to institute the comparison, from presenting such marked contrasts in its houses, and the inquiry being little complicated by the presence of noxious trades, which in some towns would necessarily disturb every calculation of the kind. Even here a colony of shoemakers would bring down the average of its healthiest spot to the age of childhood. My attention was called to this circumstance by the clerk incidentally remarking that more shoemakers were married at his office, and were uniformly more dirty and ill-dressed, than any other class of persons. The proneness to marriage or concubinage in proportion to the degradation of the parties is notorious, and I anticipated from the fact an abundant offspring, afterwards to be carried off by premature disease. Accordingly I went with this view through several of the registers, and the result was, that while the average of death amongst the families of labourers and artisans in general was 24 and 25, that of shoemakers was only 14. Had the shoemakers been excluded from the former average, as for the purpose of this comparison they should have been, the disproportion would be some years greater.

“The deaths from fever and contagious diseases I found to be almost exclusively confined to the worst parts of the town. An epidemic small-pox raged at the end of the year 1837, and carried off upwards of 300 persons; yet of all this number I do not think there was a single gentleman, and not above two or three tradesmen. The residences of the labouring classes were pretty equally visited, disease showing here and 170there a predilection for particular spots, and settling with full virulence in Avon-street and its offsets. I went through the registers from the commencement, and observed that, whatever contagious or epidemic diseases prevailed,—fever, small-pox, influenza,—this was the scene of its principal ravages; and it is the very place of which every person acquainted with Bath would have predicted this result. Everything vile and offensive is congregated there. All the scum of Bath—its low prostitutes, its thieves, its beggars—are piled up in the dens rather than houses of which the street consists. Its population is the most disproportioned to the accommodation of any I have ever heard; and to aggravate the mischief, the refuse is commonly thrown under the staircase; and water more scarce than in any quarter of the town. It would hardly be an hyperbole to say that there is less water consumed than beer; and altogether it would be more difficult to exaggerate the description of this dreadful spot than to convey an adequate notion to those who have never seen it. A prominent feature in the midst of this mass of physical and moral evils is the extraordinary number of illegitimate children; the offspring of persons who in all respects live together as man and wife. Without the slightest objection to the legal obligation, the moral degradation is such that marriage is accounted a superfluous ceremony, not worth the payment of the necessary fees; and on one occasion, when it was given out that these would be dispensed with, upwards of 50 persons from Avon-street, who had lived together for years, voluntarily came forward to enter into a union. And thus it invariably happens in crowded haunts of sin and filth, where principle is obliterated, and where public opinion, which so often operates in the place of principle, is never heard; where, to say truth, virtue is treated with the scorn which in better society is accorded to vice. I have been rendered familiar with these places by holding a curacy in the midst of them for upwards of a year, and my duty as chaplain to the union, in visiting the friends of paupers or discharged paupers themselves, keep up the knowledge I then contracted.

“I think these facts supply us with important conclusions. Whether we compare one part of Bath with another or Bath with other towns, we find health rising in proportion to the improvement of the residences; we find morality, in at least a great measure, following the same law, and both these inestimable blessings within the reach of the legislature to secure. When viewed in this light, these investigations, so often distressing and disgusting, acquire dignity and importance.”

The suffering and expense of life prevalent in differently situated districts observed in this country, are consistent with the experience of the continent.

In a report prepared by M. Villermé, as the reporter of a committee of the Royal Academy of Medicine at Paris, appointed to investigate some statistical data on the mortality prevalent in that city, and the department of the Seine, several tables are given to show the proportions of deaths that occur in each of the several arrondissements. In the table on which the most reliance appears to be placed, the mortality in each arrondissement is exhibited as it occurs in the private residences. In the following table the arrondissements are arranged in the order of the proportions in which the houses are exempted from taxation, on the ground 171of the poverty of the inhabitants, beginning with the arrondissements where the exemptions are the fewest, where the houses are the largest and most valuable, and proceeding to those where the exemptions are most numerous, and the houses the least in size, as indicated by the value. The average of exempted houses, with slight exceptions, he considers a fair indication of the average condition of each arrondissement as compared with the other arrondissements. In this table I have included a column showing the deaths of persons from each arrondissement who die in the public hospitals and other places appropriated to the care of the sick. These tables perhaps comprise the whole of the mortality that occurs in that capital. I have added the proportions of deaths from cholera in each arrondissement, which followed in the highest and the lowest arrondissements the general law of mortality, with some irregularities in the intermediate arrondissements which I have not seen accounted for:—

Arrondissements. Proportion of Tenements exempted from Taxation. Annual Average Value of Tenement. Deaths in Private Houses. Total of Deaths in the House and at the Hospitals. Cholera.
Period from 1817 to 1821. Period from 1822 to 1826. Period from 1817 to 1821. Period from 1822 to 1826.
    fr. 1 in 1 in 1 in 1 in 1 in
3. Montmartre 0·07 425 62 71 38 43 90
2. Chaussée d’Antin 0·11 604 60 67 43 48 107
1. Roule, Tuileries 0·11 497 58 66 45 52 82
4. St. Honoré, Louvre 0·15 328 58 62 33 34 54
11. Luxembourg, &c. 0·19 257 51 61 33 39 17
6. Porte St. Denis, Temple 0·21 242 54 58 35 38 62
5. Faubourg St. Denis 0·22 225 53 64 34 42 67
7. St. Avoie 0·22 217 52 59 35 41 34
10. Monnaie, Invalides 0·23 285 50 49 36 36 34
9. Ile St. Louis 0·31 172 44 50 25 30 22
8. St. Antoine 0·32 172 43 46 25 28 36
12. Jardin du Roi 0·38 147 43 44 24 26 35

In all Paris 32 36  

It will be observed that in each table the mortality is the lowest in the three richest arrondissements (1, 2, and 3), and is the highest in the three arrondissements, which are positively the poorest, namely, the 8th, 9th, and 12th. Similar results were deduced from comparisons of the mortality prevalent in streets inhabited by different classes; and from comparisons of the different rates of mortality prevalent amongst persons of the same condition as to income, but residing in houses of favourable or unfavourable construction and situation.

If we could ascertain the rates of mortality formerly prevalent in the separate districts of each large town, it is probable we should find that the improvement in the average chances of life of the whole town has been raised principally by the improved chances 172in the districts where the streets have been widened, paved, and cleansed, and the houses enlarged and drained; and that the amount of sickness and chances of life in the inferior districts are as little altered as their general physical condition. The present condition of those parts of London where the average mortality is 1 in 28 annually, appears to be not dissimilar to the general condition of the whole metropolis about a century ago, which was said to be about 1 in 20, a rate still to be found in some of the most neglected streets.

Dr. Heberden, in an able paper which he wrote at the beginning of the present century, on the disappearance of several diseases in London, ascribes the fact, and the advance of the public health, to the improvements that have gradually taken place in the widening, paving, and cleansing the streets since the great conflagration. He observes that “the annual pestilential fever of Constantinople very much resembles that of our gaols and crowded hospitals,” and “is only called plague when attended with buboes and carbuncles.” He ascribes the exemption to “our change of manners, our love of cleanliness and ventilation, which have produced amongst us, I do not say an incapability, but a great inaptness any longer to receive it.” The examination of the disease prevalent, in the poorer districts, however, raises the question whether they have not, in the “pestilential fever by which they are ravaged,” any other than a type of the malady from which it is supposed the country is exempted. The fever itself is almost as severe in particular neighbourhoods and in unfavourable states of the weather, as it is stated to be in the bad quarters of Constantinople.

The like improvement in the public health that has followed the slow structural improvements in the best districts of the metropolis has been displayed in Paris, where some of the worst districts which remain in a condition not dissimilar to that in which the whole of Paris is described to have been, in closeness and filth, and where the chances of life have remained nearly in the same low condition. M. De Villermé, in proof of an improvement commensurate with the improvements that have been made in the condition of the streets and houses, and the habits of the inhabitants, cites a curious document of the date of the fourteenth century, namely, the register of a tax levied upon all assessable persons of Paris, when Philip-le-Bel knighted his eldest son, who afterwards succeeded him under the name of Louis the Xth. The persons assessed were housekeepers, manufacturers, merchants, masters of the different handicrafts, master jewellers, master masons, master upholsterers, haberdashers, confectioners, butchers, brewers, wine, corn, and cloth merchants, the heads of houses, amongst whom mortality in the present times would be slight compared with that prevalent amongst the lower classes. From the number of this class who are named and registered street by street by the parish priests, as having died between the date of 173the assessment and the date when the tax was levied, it appears that 232 out of 6042 died in thirteen months and a half, during a time which was not remarked for any extraordinary sickness. From hence it is inferred that the general annual mortality in Paris could not be less at the commencement of the 14th century than one-twentieth or a twenty-second part of the whole population; whereas in later times the general mortality has not been known to exceed one thirty-second part. The general mortality, therefore, or rather the mortality of a high and select class, was worse in the 14th century than the mortality in the worst districts in the 19th, where it was 1 in 24.

“But it will be said,” observes M. Villermé, “how can so dreadful a mortality be admitted to have taken place in a climate so salubrious as that of Paris? I confess that if, in order to justify that statement, I had nothing but the book of assessment of the year 1313, I should not have allowed myself at this distance of time to have made any use of the facts which are found recorded in the book of which I am speaking; but the accounts of the time inform us how much public hygiène was then neglected, and that in Paris particularly, the horrible filth of the streets was insupportable, so much were they encumbered with dirt of every kind.

“Some idea may be formed of the dirtiness of the streets of Paris, towards the end of the fourteenth century, from the words of an ordinance of Charles VI. issued in 1388, ‘And whereas the pavements of Paris are much injured and fallen into decay, so that in many places no horse or carriage can go without very great danger and inconvenience, and whereas this town has long been, and still is, full of dirt, rubbish, and ordure, which each person has left at his own door, so that it is a great horror, and a great displeasure to all persons of respectability and honour, and a great scandal and shame to this city, and a great grief and prejudice to the human beings dwelling in and frequenting the said city, who by the infection of the stinking mass of filth have fallen in times past into great illness and infirmities of body, and great mortality.’

“It must be borne in mind (many other facts prove it),” observes M. Villermé, “that the humble citizens of the present day, artisans for example, are for the most part much better off, as regards air, and those conveniencies which preserve life than persons of much greater wealth were in former times in this capital.” From a passage in Ulpien, it is estimated that the chances of life is in ancient Rome as deduced from the experience of a select class was 30 years.

He states, that the first agent to improvement is changing the infected air that they inspired in Paris for air that is pure. In the recent progress of the same change it has been observed there, as in this country, that parts of streets better paved and cleansed are marked by the comparative infrequency of disease.

Yet how much remains to be done is shown by the fact that in Paris, with a drier and more salubrious climate, the mortality is still greater than in London; and that the advantages of which M. Villermé justly speaks so highly, are distributed with extreme 174inequality, is apparent from his tables, which show that in one district the mortality has diminished to 1 in 52; whilst in another it remains as great as 1 in 26 annually. So we have seen that in London it ranges from 1 in 28 to 1 in 57; and it will be seen that in the township of Manchester, a population of nearly 80,000, one twenty-eighth are swept away annually, whilst, in a favoured suburban district, no more than one sixty-third part die.

I have been favoured by M. Ducpetiaux, the Inspector-general of prisons in Belgium, with the copy of a report on an inquiry similar to the present, into the condition of the labouring population in Brussels. I have submitted an extract from it in the Appendix, descriptive of the general condition in which their residences were found. When the proportion which the well-conditioned houses of that city bear to the great mass is considered, it will not excite surprise to those who have traversed the poorer districts to find that the average mortality amongst the whole population was, in the year 1840, 1 in 24. In 1829, it appears to have been 1 in 21.

In illustration of the moral and social effects to be anticipated from measures for the removal of the causes of pestilence amongst the labouring classes, and for the increase of their duration of life, concurrently with an increase of the population, I refer to the effects experienced in Geneva from the like improvements effected during the lapse of centuries. That city is, so far as I am aware, the only one in Europe in which there is an early and complete set of registers of marriages, births, and deaths. These registries were established in the year 1549, and are viewed as pre-appointed evidences to civil rights, and are kept with great care. This registration includes the name of the disease which has caused the death, entered by a district physician who is charged by the State with the inspection of every person who dies within his district. A second table is made up from certificates setting forth the nature of the disease, with a specification of the symptoms, and observations required to be made by the private physician who may have had the care of the deceased. These registries have been the subject of frequent careful examinations. It appears from them that the progress of the population intra muros of that city has been as follows:—

In the Year Inhabitants. Proportionate rate of Increase as compared with 1589.
1589 13,000 100
1693 16,111 124, or 24 per cent.
1698 16,934 130, or 30 per cent.
1711 18,500 142, or 42 per cent.
1721 20,781 160, or 60 per cent.
1755 21,816 168, or 68 per cent.
1781 24,810 191, or 91 per cent.
1785 25,500 196, or 96 per cent.
1751789 26,140 201, or 101 per cent.
1805 22,300 171, or 71 per cent.
1812 24,158 186, or 86 per cent.
1822 24,886 191, or 91 per cent.
1828 26,121 201, or 101 per cent.
1834 27,177 209, or 109 per cent.

It is proved in a report by M. Edward Mallet, one of the most able that have been made from these registries, that this increase of the population has been followed by an increase in the probable duration of life in that city:—

Years. Months. Days. Proportionate rate of Increase as compared with the end of 16th Century.
Towards the end of the 16th century the probabilities of life were, to every individual born ... 8 7 26 100
In the 17th century 13 3 16 153, or 53 per cent.
1701–1750 27 9 13 321, or 221 per cent.
1751–1800 31 3 5 361, or 261 per cent.
1801–1813 40 8 0 470, or 370 per cent.
1814–1833 45 0 29 521, or 421 per cent.

The progression of the population and the increased duration of life had been attended by a progression in happiness: as prosperity advanced marriages became fewer and later;[20] the proportion of births were reduced, but greater numbers of the infants born were preserved;[21] and the proportion of the population in manhood became greater. In the early and barbarous periods, the excessive mortality was accompanied by a prodigious fecundity. In the ten last years of the 17th century, a marriage still produced five children and more; the probable duration of life attained was 176not 20 years, and Geneva had scarcely 17,000 inhabitants. Towards the end of the 18th century there was scarcely three children to a marriage, and the probabilities of life exceeded 32 years. At the present time a marriage only produces 2¾ children; the probability of life is 45[22] years, and Geneva, which exceeds 27,000 in population, has arrived at a high degree of civilization and of “prospérité matérielle.” In 1836 the population appeared to have attained its summit; the births barely replaced the deaths.

M. Mallet observes, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the different causes, and the different degrees of intensity of each of the causes that have tended to produce this result. It is, however, attributed generally to the advance in the condition of all classes; to the medical science of the public health being better understood and applied; to larger and better and cleaner dwellings; more abundant and healthy food; the cessation of the great epidemics which, from time to time, decimated the population; the precautions taken against famine; and better regulated public and private life. As an instance of the effects of regimen in the preservation of life, he mentions that, in an establishment for the care of female orphans taken from the poorest classes, out of 86 reared in 24 years, one only had died These orphans were taken from the poor. The average mortality on the whole population would have been six times as great.[23]

An impression of an undefined optimism is frequently entertained by persons who are aware of the wretched condition of a large portion of the labouring population; and this impression is more frequently entertained than expressed, as the ground of inaction for the relief of the prevalent misery from disease, that its 177ravages form the natural or positive check, or, as Dr. Short terms it, a “terrible corrective” to the pressure of population on the means of subsistence.

In the most crowded districts, which have been the subject of the present inquiry, the facts do not justify this impression; they show that the theory is inapplicable to the present circumstances of the population. How erroneous the inferences are in their unrestrained generality, which assume that the poverty or the privation which is sometimes the consequence,—is always the cause, of the disease, will have been seen from such evidence as that adduced from Glasgow and Spitalfields, proving that the greater proportion of those attacked by disease are in full work at the time; and the evidence from the fever hospitals, that the greatest proportion of the patients are received in high bodily condition. If wages be taken as the test of the means of subsistence, it may be asked how are such facts to be reconciled as these, that at a time when wages in Manchester were 10s. per head weekly on all employed in the manufactories, including children or young persons in the average, so that if three or four members of a family were employed, the wages of a family would be 30s. or 40s. weekly, the average chances of life to all of the labouring classes were only 17 years; whilst in the whole of Rutlandshire, where the wages were certainly not one half that amount, we find the mean chances of life to every individual of the lowest class were 37 years? Or, to take another instance, that whilst in Leeds, where, according to Mr. Baker’s report, the wages of the families of the worst-conditioned workers were upwards of 1l. 1s. per week, and the chances of life amongst the whole labouring population of the borough were only 19 years; whilst in the county of Wilts, where the labourer’s family would not receive much more than half that amount of wages in money, and perhaps not two-thirds of money’s worth in money and produce together, we find the average chances of life to the labouring classes 32 years?

If, in the most crowded districts, the inference is found to be erroneous, that the extent of sickness and mortality is indicative of the pressure of population on the means of subsistence, so is the inference that the ravages act to the extent supposed, as a positive check to the increase of the numbers of the population. In such districts the fact is observable, that where the mortality is the highest, the number of births are more than sufficient to replace the deaths, however numerous they may be.

This fact is shown in the following returns from the eight townships which comprehend Manchester and its suburbs, made by the Statistical Society of that town. But I believe the results would be more strongly manifest if the registration of the births and of the residences of the mothers were complete. I have reason to believe that in the lower districts many births, and especially illegitimate births, escape registration, and that many take place in 178hospitals and workhouses out of the township; whilst in the better conditioned districts the registration is comparatively accurate. I have caused attempts to be made in several of the worst neighbourhoods in Bath and other places, to ascertain with greater precision the actual number of births; but from the migratory character of the population and other circumstances, the efforts failed to do more than to confirm the impression that many had hitherto escaped registration.

The proportion of mortality in the several townships denotes with little variation the state of the streets and houses, and the condition of the inhabitants. The township of Broughton is inhabited almost exclusively by the upper classes, who are connected with Manchester. The houses are new, spacious, and well built; the site is elevated, and offers great facilities for drainage. The township of Cheetham and Crumpsall is also inhabited for the most part by the upper classes, who live in peculiarly good houses, with a superior natural drainage. There is a proportion of the working population resident in this district whose houses are well built, and also favourably situated for drainage. The condition of the habitations of a large proportion of the labouring population in Manchester has already been described.

It will be observed also that the moral as well as the sanitary influences have a coincidence in the larger proportion of the illegitimate births in the worst conditioned districts. In the best conditioned districts the great majority of illegitimate births belong almost exclusively to the more dissipated of the labouring classes who inhabit them.

Localities. Population. Deaths. Total Deaths of Males & Females. Proportion of Births to Population. Proportion of Illegitimate Births to Total Births.
Males. Females. Males. Females.
    1 in 1 in 1 in 1 in 1 in
Broughton 1,554 2,239 44·40 89·56 63·21 36·82 51·50
Cheetham and Crumpsall 3,963 4,862 45·03 63·14 53·48 34·74 50·80
Pendleton 5,109 5,796 40·22 49·96 44·87 25·47 12·58
Chorlton-upon-Medlock 12,551 15,771 30·91 47·79 38·48 26·05 32·93
Hulme 12,850 13,969 37·24 38·48 37·87 23·17 24·10
Ardwick 4,586 5,320 35·55 34·54 35·00 24·27 34·00
Salford 24,762 26,760 27·30 36·60 31·42 22·83 21·90
Manchester 79,061 84,606 26·61 30·15 28·33 26·79 19·20
Total 141,436 159,323 28·84 34·62 31·60 25·74 21·26

In the ten registration districts of Leeds the mortality prevalent in them varies coincidently with their physical condition, and the recklessness and immorality as shown in the proportion of illegitimate births, increases in a greater proportion than the mortality; and in this instance also, as in most others, if the registration were more accurate, the proportion of both legitimate and illegitimate births would be still closer to the deaths in the worst conditioned districts.

Registration Districts. Population. Ratio of Deaths to the whole Population. Ratio of Births to the whole Population. Ratio of Illegitimate Births to Total Births.
  1 in 1 in 1 in
Chapeltown 4,538 57·7 30·6 74·0
Whitkirk 3,194 56·0 29·0 36·7
Kirkstall 17,816 45·6 24·8 23·1
Rothwell 5,557 45·1 28·2 24·6
Wortley 16,185 44·4 24·9 26·0
Holbeck 16,668 41·9 25·4 24·3
Leeds, West 32,286 40·4 28·4 19·2
Hunslet 15,784 35·5 24·2 21·7
Leeds, North 30,465 30·9 23·9 14·3
East District (Kirkgate) 24,862 28·8 24·3 20·0
Total of Leeds 167,355 37·3 25·5 20·1

We have seen that in the lowest districts of Manchester of 1000 children born, more than 570 will have died before they attain the fifth year of their age. In the lowest districts of Leeds the infant mortality is similar. This proportion of mortality M. Mallet designates as the case of a population but little advanced in civilization, ravaged by epidemics—a population in which the “influences on the lower ages are murderous, but where the great mortality in infancy is compensated by a high degree of fecundity. It is the case of the population in many large towns, especially in past ages.” But whilst in Manchester, where one twenty-eighth of the whole population is annually swept away, the births registered amount to 1 in 26 of the population; in the county of Rutland, where the proportion of deaths is 1 in 52 of the population, the proportion of births, as shown by an average of three years, (by a registration which I apprehend is more complete than in the lower districts of Manchester,) is only 1 to 33 of the population.

The increase of births after a pestilence has been long observed; the coincidence of an increase of births in a proportion to the high rate of mortality in the worst districts has frequently been noted on the continent. M. Quetelet has observed the fact in several countries and gives instances from which the following are selected:—

Countries. Inhabitant.
For one Death. For one Marriage. For one Birth.
Department of Orne 52·4 147·5 44·8
Department of Finisterre 30·4 113·9 26·0
Namur 51·8 141·0 30·1
Province of Zealand 28·5 113·2 21·9

180He states that he had often been tempted to attribute these discrepancies to a faulty census of the population; but more attentive researches had induced him to believe that this state of things is dependent on local causes.

M. Bossi, in the Statisque du Department le l’Ain, gives a striking example of the effect of the locality. With a view to study the influences of locality, he divided the department into four portions; and from documents collected during the years 1812, 1813, and 1814, he obtained the following results:—


To 1 Death annually. To 1 Marriage annually. To 1 Birth annually.
In mountain parishes 38·3 179 34·8
On the seaside 26·6 145 28·8
In corn districts 24·6 135 27·5
In stagnant and marshy districts 20·8 107 26·1

Notwithstanding the depression of many districts, and the decrease of health amongst the classes in the manufacturing towns from which a large proportion of conscripts are taken, the annual proportions of deaths appear to have decreased.

In 1784, from researches taken in France under Necker’s directions, it appeared that there was one birth for every 25·56 inhabitants
In 1784, from researches taken in France under Necker’s directions, it appeared that there was one death for every 30·02 inhabitants
From 1816 to 1831 there was one birth only for every 32 inhabitants
One death 39·8 inhabitants

M. Quetelet’s returns show that so far as the present state of information can be relied upon, the same law is observed in general action, not only in provinces but in whole countries throughout Europe. It is confirmed by extensive experience occurring in the new world. The trustworthiness of the registration of births and deaths in Mexico are attested by the examination and use of them by Humboldt, and have been the subject of legislative proceedings. The ratios of births and deaths in the province of Guanaxuato have been referred to by Sir F. d’Ivernois, in illustration of the position that pestilence does not check the progress of population. A large proportion of the inferior Mexican population are reported to “have converted the gifts of heaven to the sustenance of disgusting misery.” It is reported of this populace that it is “half clothed, idle, stained all over with vices; in a word, hideous and known under the name of leperos, lepers, on account of the malady to which their filth and bad diet subjects them. Nothing can exceed the state of brutality and superstition to which they have been subjected.”[24]

181The fecundity of this population, sunk in the lowest vice and misery amidst the means of the highest abundance, was greater than amidst any other whole population in Christendom;[25] they stood thus in 1825 and 1826:—

1 in
Deaths 19·70
Births 16·08

They are much mistaken who imagine that a similarly conditioned population is not to be found in this country; it is found in parts of the population of every large town; the description of the Mexican populace will recall features characteristic of the wretched population in the worst parts of Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, and Bath, and the lodging-houses throughout the country.

Seeing that the banana (with the plantain or maize) is the chief food of the inferior Mexican populace, their degraded condition has been ascribed to the fertility of that plant, as the degradation of a large proportion of our population has been ascribed to the use of the potatoe, whereas a closer examination would have shown the fact of large classes living industriously and virtuously chiefly on simple food, and preferring saving money to better living; and that, if a high and various meat diet were the cause of health, industry, and morality, those virtues should stand highest amongst the population of the lodging-houses, for more meat and varied food is consumed in those abodes of pestilence than amongst the industrious population of the village. In Manchester, where we have seen that the chances of life are only 17 years, the proportions and varieties of meat consumed by the labouring classes, 182are as their greater amount of wages compared with the meat consumed by the labouring classes in Rutlandshire, whose mean chances of life are 38 years.[26] But I apprehend that the superior health in Rutlandshire is as little ascribable to their simpler food as the greater amount of disease amidst the town population is ascribable to the greater proportion of meat which is there consumed. It is probable indeed that the standard of vitality in Rutlandshire might be raised still higher by improvements in the quality of their food. There are abundant reasons to render it desirable that the food of the population should be varied, but it is shown that banishing the potatoe or discouraging its use, or introducing any other food, will not banish disease.

By means of the last census and the last year’s completed registration of deaths and births in England, I am enabled to show that there has been an increase of the population from births alone in those parts of the country where the proportionate mortality is the greatest.

Taking the 42 counties as I find them arranged in Mr. Porter’s paper on the census; dividing them into three parts, viz., the 14 counties where there has been the least proportionate mortality, the 14 counties where the proportion of mortality has been the greatest, and the 14 counties where the proportion of mortality has been intermediate, I find the results as to the proportionate increase of births to the increase of deaths to be as follows:—

The annual average Rate of Increase of Population has been per 10,000 persons between 1831 and 1841. Proportion of Births and Deaths to Population in the Year ended June 30, 1840. Proportion of Births and Deaths to every 10,000 Persons in same period. Excess in every 10,000 Persons of Births above Deaths.
a. The 14 counties where the mortality has been the least 112 deaths (1 in 54),
deaths (1 in 34),
deaths 184
births 297
b. The 14 counties where it has been intermediate 121 deaths (1 in 48),
births (1 in 33),
deaths 208
births 302
c. The 14 counties where it has been the greatest 183 deaths (1 in 39),
births (1 in 29),
deaths 259
births 348

183The following are the proportions of births and deaths to the population in 1840, and the total rate of increase of population between the years 1831 and 1841:—

Deaths per An.
1 to
Births per An.
1 to
Pop. Incr.
per Cent.
Hereford 64 45 2·9
Dorset 61 34 9·7
Cornwall 59 30 13·4
Devon 58 36 7·8
Sussex 55 34 10·0
Southampton 55 37 12·9
Essex 53 35 8·6
Wilts 53 35 8·2
York, N. R. 53 38 7·2
Rutland 53 30 10·0
Suffolk 53 32 6·3
Bucks 52 33 6·4
Lincoln 52 31 14·2
Stafford 51 31 24·2
Norfolk 51 34 5·7
Cumberland 51 35 4·8
Gloucester 51 37 11·4
Salop 50 37 7·2
Oxford 50 32 6·1
Hertford 49 29 9·6
Kent 48 35 14·4
Somerset 48 33 7·8
Derby 47 35 14·7
Northampton 47 29 10·9
Warwick 47 31 19·4
Hunts 46 28 10·3
Cambridge 45 28 14·2
Surrey 45 33 19·7
Bedford 44 26 13·0
Northumbd. 44 29 12·2
Westmoreld. 43 35 2·5
York, E. R. 43 34 14·6
Durham 43 28 27·7
York, W. R. 43 27 18·2
Chester 43 34 18·5
Berks 42 28 10·2
Middlesex 42 35 16·0
Leicester 40 29 9·5
Monmouth 38 26 36·9
Nottingham 36 28 10·8
Worcester 33 20 10·4
Lancaster 32 26 24·7

We here find that in the 14 counties where proportionate mortality has been the least, the 184 deaths in 10,000 persons are made up by the 297 births; hence 113, or more than 1 per cent., is added by new births to the existing population. In the 14 intermediate counties where the deaths on every 10,000 persons increase to 208, there the deaths are again made up by 302 births, and 94, or close upon 1 per cent., are again added to the population. In the 14 counties where the increase of the population is the greatest, the deaths in every 10,000 persons are increased to 259, but here also we find that the births are again sufficient to make up for the deaths; they are 348, and increase the population by 89, or less than 1 per cent.

Hence, if the number of births in each 10,000 persons of the 14 counties where the mortality has been the greatest had taken place amongst every 10,000 persons of the counties where the mortality has been the least, then the increase of population in these latter by births, instead of being 113, would have been 164.[27]

I must again observe that the registration of births in the most populous town districts, where the mortality is greatest, is the least perfect. The excess of births over deaths may really be taken to be greater than shown in the returns from the districts where the mortality is the greatest.

184The estimated increase of population in England in the year 1840, as compared with 1839, is 190,460. In the same period it appears that the births exceeded the deaths by 143,178. The difference between these two amounts, or 47,282, may be considered as the extent of emigration to England, together with the cases of births not registered. To whatever extent emigration takes place from England, there must of course have been a proportionate immigration from other places to make up the increase of population beyond the apparent increase from births.

It is observed in some of the worst conditioned of the town districts that the positive numbers of the natives of the aboriginal stock continually diminishes, and that the vacancy as well as the increase is made up by immigration from the healthier district. In a late enumeration of the settled inhabitants of the labouring classes in the lower parts of Westminster, it appeared that not more than one-third of them were natives of London. If inquiry had been made as to whether their parents were natives, it would probably have been found that still fewer had inhabited the district for more than one generation.

Simple enumerations of the numbers of a population are of themselves but imperfect means for judging of its progression in strength. That is best shown in the increased proportions of the adults, who are of the age and strength and skill for productive industry, in the extended period during which each adult labourer occupies his post.

M. Mallet bears testimony that the experience of Geneva is confirmatory of the important rule, that the strength of a people does not depend on the absolute number of its population, but on the relative number of those who are of the age and strength for labour. It is proved that the real and productive value of the population has there increased in a much greater proportion than the increase in the absolute number of the population. The 185absolute number of the population has only doubled, in the instance of Geneva, during three centuries; but the value of the population has more than doubled upon the purely numerical increase of the population. In other words, a population of 27,000, in which the probability of life is 40 years for each individual, is more than twice as strong for the purposes of production as a population of 27,000 in which the probability or value of life is only 20 years for each individual.

The important general fact of the proportion of adult physical strength to the increased duration of life, or improved sanitary condition of the individuals, is verified by the examinations of the individuals of different classes. M. Villermé states that, the difference of strength between classes such as those in which we have seen that the value of life differs, is well known to the officers engaged in recruiting the army, but no one had collected the facts to determine the precise difference. The time allowed to M. Villermé only enabled him to do so at Amiens. The result was, that the men of from 20 to 21 years of age were found the more frequently unfit for the trade of arms from their stature, constitution, and health, as they belonged to the poorer classes of the manufacturing labourers. In order to obtain 100 men fit for military service, it was necessary to have as many as 343 men of the poorer classes; whilst 193 conscripts sufficed of the classes in better circumstances. Analogous facts were observed in the greater part of the towns in France in which he conducted his official investigations.[28]

In the evidence of recruiting officers, collected under the Factory Commission of Inquiry, it was shown that fewer recruits of the proper strength and stature for military service are obtainable now than heretofore from Manchester. I have been informed that of those labourers now employed in the most important manufactories, whether natives or migrants to that town, the sons who are employed at the same work are generally inferior in stature to their parents. Sir James M’Grigor, the Director-general of the Army Medical Board, stated to me 186the fact, that “A corps levied from the agricultural districts in Wales, or the northern counties of England, will last longer than one recruited from the manufacturing towns from Birmingham, Manchester, or near the metropolis.” Indeed, so great and permanent is the deterioration, that out of 613 men enlisted, almost all of whom came from Birmingham and five other neighbouring towns, only 238 were approved for service.

The chances of life of the labouring classes of Spitalfields are amongst the lowest that I have met with, and there it is observed of weavers, though not originally a large race, that they have become still more diminutive under the noxious influences to which they are subject. Dr. Mitchell, in his report on the condition of the hand-loom weavers, adduces evidence on this point. One witness well acquainted with the class states, “They are decayed in their bodies; the whole race of them is rapidly descending to the size of Liliputians. You could not raise a grenadier company amongst them all. The old men have better complexions than the young.” Another witness who says there were once men as well made in the weaver trade as any other, “recollects the Bethnal Green and Spitalfields regiment of volunteers during the war as good-looking bodies of men, but doubts if such could be raised now.” Mr. Duce concurs in the fact of the deterioration of their size and appearance within the last 30 years, and attributes it to bad air, bad lodging, bad food, “which causes the children to grow up an enfeebled and diminutive race of men.” (Vide Evidence of the Medical Officers of the District, ante.)

This depressing effect of adverse sanitary circumstances on the labouring strength of the population, and on its duration, is to be viewed with the greatest concern, as it is a depressing effect on that which most distinguishes the British people, and which it were a truism to say constitutes the chief strength of the nation—the bodily strength of the individuals of the labouring class. The greater portion of the wealth of the nation is derived from the labour obtained by the application of this strength, and it is only those who have had practically the means of comparing it with that of the population of other countries who are aware how far the labouring population of this country is naturally distinguished above others. There is much practical evidence to show that this is not a mere illusion of national vanity, and in proof of this I might adduce the testimony of some of the most eminent employers of large numbers of labourers, whose conclusions are founded on experience in directing the work of labourers from the chief countries in Europe, e. g., Mr. William Lindley, the civil engineer, engaged in the superintendence of the formation of the new railway between Hamburgh and Berlin, found it expedient to import as the foremost labourers for the 187execution of that work a number of the class of English labourers called navigators. These were recently employed in pile-driving at wages of 5s. per diem, or more than double the amount of wages paid to the German labourers. The German directors were surprised, and remonstrated at the enormously high wages paid to the English labourers; when the engineer directed their attention to the quantity of work performed within a given time, and showed that the wages produced more than amongst the native labourers. English labourers of the same class have been imported to take the foremost labour in the execution of the railways in progress from Havre to Paris, their work at very high wages being found cheaper than the work even of the Norman labourers. Skill and personal strength are combined in an unusually high degree in this class of workmen, but the most eminent employers of labour agree that it is strength of body, combined with strength of will, that gives steadiness and value to the artisan and common English labourer.

Nor is such experience confined to one branch of industry. In the heaviest works of the manufactories on the continent the strength and energy of the English artisan puts him in advance of all others.

Mr. J. Thomson, of Clitheroe, in treating of a question affecting the branch of industry, cotton-printing, in England, observes:—

“This limited production, in proportion to the hands employed,” in France, “has a deeper source than in styles which may be varied, and simplified, and changed at pleasure. It is to be found in the character and habits of the people, which cannot be changed or moulded at the will of a task-master; nor can an English day’s work be had in France for an English day’s wages. In 1814, I saw France before she had time to profit by the industrial skill and improvements of England; again in 1817, and in 1824, when I examined with anxious care, during a prolonged stay, the grounds of the prevailing apprehension, that our manufacturing greatness was declining, and that the cheap labour of France would more than compensate her many disadvantages. I returned home with the conviction, since, and now again confirmed, that the labour of Alsace, the best and cheapest in France, is dearer than the labour of Lancashire. I would not aver that an English workman would perform twice the work of a workman of the same class in France, but of this I feel assured, from frequent personal observation of their habits, and from long and confidential intercourse with their intelligent and enlightened manufacturers, that the advantage is more than twofold on the side of England, and that the true result is not to be obtained by comparisons between individuals, or even classes of workmen, but in the comparative aggregate industry of large establishments, or a whole population.

“Of this difference the intelligent witnesses, who gave evidence in 1835, before the French Commission of Inquiry into their prohibitory system, were fully aware, and with some allowances for that natural, excusable, and perhaps commendable nationality on such a subject, they 188did justice to the superior persevering energy of the English workman, whose enduring, untiring, savage industry, surpasses that of every other manufacturing country I have visited, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland not excepted.”

The noxious agencies not only impair the strength of the labouring community, but, as will be further shown, they tend also to shorten the period of its exercise. This effect will be more apparent when considering merely the pecuniary burdens of the excess of orphanage and premature widowhood, apart from the loss of protection and the misery which it causes. I shall here only observe, as to the depressing effects assumed from the admitted tendencies of an increase of population, that the fact is, that hitherto, in England, wages, or the means of obtaining the necessaries of life for the whole mass of the labouring community, have advanced, and the comforts within the reach of the labouring classes have increased with the late increase of population. This may be verified by reference to various evidence, and amongst others to that contained in Sir F. Eden’s examinations of the wages and modes of subsistence of the agricultural labourers in his day, and we have evidence of this advance even in many of the manufacturing districts now in a state of severe depression. For example, an eminent manufacturer in Lancashire, stated to me in November ultimo—“That the same yarn which cost my father 12d. per lb. to make in 1792, all by machinery, now costs only 2d. per lb.; paying then only 4s. 4d. per hand wages weekly, now 8s. 8d. or more; yet those wages amounted then to 5½d. per lb., and notwithstanding the higher wages, now, to only 1d. per lb.”

The prices of provisions were, during the first period, as high as now, and the cost of clothing 30 or 40 per cent. higher.


The more closely the subject of the evils affecting the sanitary condition of the labouring population is investigated the more widely do their effects appear to be ramified. The pecuniary cost of noxious agencies is measured by data within the province of the actuary, by the charges attendant on the reduced duration of life, and the reduction of the periods of working ability or production by sickness; the cost would include also much of the public charge of attendant vice and crime which come within the province of the police, as well as the destitution which comes within the province of the administrators of relief. Of the pecuniary effects, including the cost of maintenance during the preventible sickness, any estimate approximating to exactness could only 189be obtained by very great labour, which does not appear to be necessary.

To whatever extent the probable duration of the life of the working-man is diminished by noxious agencies, I repeat a truism in stating that to some extent so much productive power is lost; and in the case of destitute widowhood and orphanage, burdens are created and cast either on the industrious survivors belonging to the family, or on the contributors to the poor’s rates during the whole of the period of the failure of such ability. With the view to judge of the extent to which such burdens are at present cast upon the poor’s rates, I have endeavoured to ascertain the average age at which death befell the heads of those families of children who with the mothers have been relieved on the ground of destitution, in eight of the unions where the average age of the mortality prevalent amongst the several classes of the community has been ascertained.

The workmen who belong to sick-clubs and benefit-societies generally fix the period of their own superannuation allowances at from 60 to 65 years of age. I see no reason to doubt that by the removal of noxious agencies not essential to their trades; by sanitary measures affecting their dwellings, combined with improvements in their own habits, the period of ability for productive labour might be extended to the whole of the labouring class.

The actual duration of the ability for labour will vary with the nature of the work, though there can be little doubt that the variations under proper precautions would be much less than those which now take place. From the information received in respect to the employment of tailors in large numbers, it is evident that the average period of the working ability of that class might be extended at least ten years by improvements as to the places of work alone. The experience which might serve to indicate the extent of practicable improvement is at present narrow and scattered. The chief English insurance tables, such as the Northampton and Carlisle tables, are made up apparently from the experience of a population, subject probably to a greater or less extent to the noxious influences which are shown to be removable. By the Carlisle table, however, the probability of life to every person who has attained the age of twenty-one—the age for marriage—would be 40 years, or 40·75. By the Swedish tables, which are frequently applied to the insurance of the labouring classes, it would be 38·0. The observations that have been made on the subject, show that marriage improves rather than diminishes the probability of life. Where the duration of life is reduced by the nature of the employment below the usual average, by so much the widowhood may be considered as increased, as also the orphanage of their children. As labouring men generally marry early in life, their wives have ceased to bear children before they 190have reached fifty, so that the great mass of orphanage may be assigned to the consequence of premature death. The following table shows the average ages at which the deaths occurred of the fathers of the widows’ orphan children who are in receipt of relief in the following unions. The average includes the cases of all who died at whatever ages, whether above or below sixty:—

Unions. Number of Husbands dying under 60. Average Age at Death. Number of Husbands dying above 60. Average Age at Death. Total Deaths. Average Age.
Manchester 718 42 432 69 1150 52
Whitechapel 351 44 239 69 590 54
Bethnal Green 250 44 195 69 445 55
Strand 157 42 63 66 220 49
Oakham & Uppingham 136 45 118 71 257 57
Alston-with-Garrigill 69 45 20 66 89 50
Bath 66 38 1 60 67 39

This premature widowhood and orphanage is the source of the most painful descriptions of pauperism—the most difficult to deal with; it is the source of a constant influx of the independent into the pauperised and permanently dependent classes. The widow, where there are children, generally remains a permanent charge; re-marriages amongst those who have children are very rare; in some unions they do not exceed one case in twenty or thirty. By the time the children are fit for labour and cease to require the parents’ attention, the mothers frequently become unfit for earning their own livelihood, or habituated to dependence, and without care to emerge from it. Even where the children are by good training and education fitted for productive industry, when they marry, the early familiarity with the parochial relief makes them improvident, and they fall back upon the poor’s rates on the lying-in of their wives, on their sickness, and for aid on every emergency. In every district the poor’s rolls form the pedigrees of generations of families thus pauperized. The total number of orphan children on account of whose destitution relief was given from the poor’s rates in the year ended Lady-day, 1840, was 112,000.

The numbers of widows chargeable to the poor’s rates was in those unions at that period 43,000. The following abstract of the returns from the eight unions selected exhibit the proportions who become chargeable at different periods of the head of the family.

Premature Deaths: Age of Widowhood in various Unions.
Ages. Manchester Union. Whitechapel Union. Bethnal Green. Strand Union. Oakham & Uppingham Unions. Alston with Garrigill. Bath Union. Total.
No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children No. of Husbands who Died. No. of Orphan Children
20–25 11 20 7 12 2 3 1 4     1 2     22 41
25–30 56 126 17 40 9 19 11 19 12 25 5 12 9 28 119 269
30–35 108 317 31 85 25 89 23 70 8 36 4 16 13 52 212 665
35–40 108 333 42 114 40 137 20 69 19 71 6 24 12 52 247 800
40–45 126 361 63 201 40 153 35 81 24 68 12 58 18 84 318 1006
45–50 112 302 61 178 44 105 23 58 19 50 18 84 9 37 286 814
50–55 100 183 78 137 45 107 24 34 30 60 9 30 4 15 290 566
55–60 97 138 51 37 45 54 20 17 24 36 14 11 1 6 252 299
60–65 147 148 87 46 53 35 25 17 26 15 13 4 1 4 352 269
65–70 96 60 48 18 52 17 15 13 26 13 1       238 121
70–75 87 55 54 8 57 7 13   32 10 4       247 80
75–80 60 22 25 4 24 8 5 2 22 4 1       137 40
80–85 35 4 17 2 7   5   11 6 1       76 12
85–90 5   7 3 2                   14 3
90–95 1   2           1           4  
100–105 1                           1  
Totals 1150 2069 590 885 445 734 220 384 254 394 89 241 67 278 2815 4985
No. receiving Relief previous to husband’s death 199   80       37   11   27          
Total Deaths below 60 years of age ... 1746

192Of the whole number it appears that upwards of 1764 became chargeable by premature deaths. If the same rule obtains in the other unions, which could only be ascertained by a very long and expensive inquiry, then nearly 27,000 cases of premature widowhood, and more than 100,000 cases of orphanage may be ascribed to removable causes. The chief effects or the chief of the diseases which appear as consequents to the circumstances under which the labouring population of the several districts have been described as living, and under which the fathers of the orphan children above enumerated have died, are set forth in the following table:—

Table of the Chief Causes of Death producing Widowhood and Orphanage in the under-mentioned Unions and Parishes.
Diseases, &c. Manchester Union. Whitechapel Union. Bethnal Green Parish. Strand Union. Oakham and Uppingham Unions. Alston with Garrigill Parish. Bath Union. Total.
No of Deaths. No of Deaths. No of Deaths. No of Deaths. No of Deaths. No of Deaths. No of Deaths. No of Deaths. Average Age of Decease. No. of Orphans.
Respiratory Organs 500 212 147 95 69 47 40 1110 51 2218
Epidemic, Endemic and Contagious 146 65 73 28 34 9 4 359 46 862
Digestive Organs 60 16 10 10 14 5 3 118 54 180
Nervous 74 41 38 17 25 3 5 203 55 296
Violent Deaths 94 44 20 16 23 13 5 215 46 508
Old Age 84 104 46 13 47 5   299 74 56
Other Diseases[29] 129 68 104 32 36 7 8 384 54 694
Undescribed 63 40 7 9 6   2 127 47 171
Total 1150 590 445 220 254 89 67 2815 53 4985

As an example of the mode in which the causes of premature deaths fall, and of the burdens they entail in many districts, I submit a return of the whole of the cases of widowhood on the pauper rolls of the parish of Alston and Garrigill, Cumberland, the parish in which are situate the lodging-houses described in the evidence collected by Dr. Mitchell.

Alston with Garrigill Parish.
Number of Widows, and Children dependent upon them, in receipt of Relief in the above Parish; Age of Husband at Death; and the alleged Cause of Death.
Initals of Widows. Number of Children dependent at the time of Husband’s Death. Occupation of deceased Husband. Age at Death. Years’ loss by premature Death. Assigned Cause of Death.
R. W.   Miner 83   Decay of nature.
M. S.   Tailor 78   Natural decay.
M. B.   Miner 73   Not stated.
M. R.   Miner 72   Decay of nature.
S. M.   Miner 72   Decay of nature.
M. T.   Mason 72   Asthma produced from age.
A. V.   Miner 67   Asthma produced from working in mines.
M. L.   Miner 64   Influenza.
A. M.   Miner 63   Asthma produced from working in the lead-mines.
M. S.   Miner 63   Natural decline.
J. P.   Labourer 62   Consumption.
H. T. 2 Mason 62   Asthma.
S. H. 2 Miner 60   Rupture of blood-vessel.
J. R.   Miner 60   Asthma produced from working in the mines.
H. L.   Miner 60   Asthma.
J. P.   Miner 60   Consumption.
M. T. 2 Miner 60   Bursting blood-vessel.
A. C.   Joiner 60   Jaundice.
E. K.   Miner 60   Asthma produced from working in the mines.
E. H.   Miner 60   Cholera.
D. J.   Glazier 59 1 Affection of the liver.
N. D. 4 Butcher 59 1 Apoplexy.
M. T.   Miner 59 1 Inflammation of the lungs.
H. A.   Miner 59 1 Asthma produced from working in the lead-mines, which terminated in consumption.
J. B.   Miner 59 1 Asthma ditto.
E. T.   Labourer 58 2 Accident by a coal-waggon.
M. P.   Miner 58 2 Asthma produced from working in the lead-mines, which terminated in consumption.
H. T.   Miner 57 3 Consumption accelerated by working in the lead-mines.
M. P. 1 Turner 57 3 Consumption.
H. S. 3 Miner 57 3 Influenza, terminating in dropsy.
M. J. 3 Blacksmith 55 5 Asthma.
S. M.   Miner 55 5 Inflammation of lungs from cold.
R. W.   Miner 55 5 Asthma produced from working in lead-mines.
M. R.   Miner 55 5 Asthma from working in the mines
J. W. 2 Miner 51 6 Pleurisy.
A. F.   Miner 54 6 Asthma and rupture of blood-vessel.
194J. L. 2 Miner 53 7 Chronic disease of rheumatism.
N. H. 2 Miner 53 7 Asthma produced from working in the lead-mines.
A. S.   Miner 52 8 Asthma and bursting blood-vessel.
M. W. 6 Miner 52 8 Asthma produced from working in the mines.
E. W. 5 Miner 52 8 Asthma produced from working in the mines, which terminated in consumption.
J. S. 6 Miner 51 9 Paralysis.
H. P. 9 Quarryman 49 11 Asthma by working in the lead-mines.
H. P. 5 Miner 48 12 Typhus fever.
E. H. 6 Miner 48 12 Killed in lead-mines.
M. A. 7 Miner 48 12 Consumption by bad air in the pit.
J. C. 8 Miner 47 13 Asthma produced by working in the lead-mines.
S. E. 6 Miner 47 13 Consumption produced from a continuance of influenza.
M. T. 8 Miner 47 13 Consumption and asthma.
E. B. 3 Miner 47 13 Affection of the head, caused from an accident received in the mine.
D. R.   Miner 46 14 Asthma produced from working in the lead-mines.
E. B. 5 Miner 46 14 Rheumatic fever, which produced inflammation of the brain.
M. S. 5 Miner 46 14 Killed in lead-mine.
M. R. 1 Joiner 46 14 Dropsy.
M. F. 7 Coal Miner 46 14 Explosion of fire-damp in a coal-mine.
L. T. 3 Miner 45 15 Asthma, which terminated with dropsy.
H. P. 3 Miner 45 15 Scarlet fever.
H. Y. 5 Miner 45 15 Consumption, accelerated by working in the lead-mines.
M. S. 2 Miner 45 15 Inflammation of bowels.
M. S. 5 Joiner 45 15 Consumption.
A. S. 6 Miner 44 16 Dropsy.
A. B. 6 Miner 44 16 Asthma from working in lead-mines.
F. C. 5 Miner 43 17 Asthma produced from working in the lead-mines.
M. D. 4 Miner 43 17 Consumption produced from asthma, caused by working in the mines.
H. M. 7 Miner 43 17 Asthma, which terminated in consumption.
A. P. 7 Superintendent. 43 17 A fall from the “horse” in the engine-shaft.
195P. W. 4 Miner 43 17 Pleurisy.
E. W. 8 Miner 42 18 Consumption and asthma produced from working in the lead-mines.
J. H. 4 Miner 42 18 Consumption.
J. J. 5 Miner 42 18 Pleurisy.
A. J. 2 Miller 42 18 Found drowned.
M. R.   Shoemaker 40 20 Injury from fall of a cart.
E. R. 7 Joiner 38 22 Affection of the liver.
J. B. 5 Miner 38 22 Consumption.
A. P. 7 Miner 37 21 Asthma.
E. W. 3 Miner 36 24 Accident in mine, which terminated in consumption.
E. H. 3 Miner 35 25 Killed in coal-pit.
M. L. 2 Miner 35 25 Water of the head.
A. S. 4 Miner 35 25 Income on leg.
S. H. 7 Miner 34 26 Accident in coal-mine.
J. H. 4 Cordwainer 30 30 Typhus fever.
S. H. 3 Cartman 30 30 Accidental.
E. A. 2 Miner 30 30 Consumption.
M. J. 3 Teacher 29 31 Consumption.
M. R. 3 Miner 29 31 Affection of urinary organs.
A. W. 2 Miner 28 32 Cholera.
M. W. 3 Miner 27 33 Inflammation of bowels.
A. H. 1 Pitman 25 35 Accident at colliery.
J. M. 2 Miner 21 39 Small-pox.
89 242   4418    
    Average age at death of each below 60 years of age. 45   Total No. of orphans by death caused below 60 years of age. } 236

A complete analysis of the whole of the causes contributory to the premature mortality displayed in this group of cases would be a work of much labour, and would in nowise affect the soundness of the conclusions derivable from other sources, that a large amount, and probably the great mass of it, is preventible.

It would, for instance, be difficult to decide the precise term of years of life cut short by the effects of the lodging-houses, in producing or aggravating other tendencies to consumption; but the information possessed by persons who have made themselves acquainted with the effects of impure air enables them to pronounce with certainty that the habitual exposure of a body of men to such noxious influences must be attended by a diminution of several years of the definite standard of life. Of the 31 deaths of 196miners below 60 years of age, from diseases of the respiratory organs, enumerated in the above return, a part of the causes may be attributable to their occupation, a part to the external circumstances of residence and connected habits. Now we have examples of the separate advantages attendant on the removal of both causes of disease I adduce the following information, obtained through Sir John Walsham, with relation to the effects of an improvement in the external circumstances of the workmen as to residences.

Captain Harland, the chairman of the Reeth union, York (North Riding), in a communication to Sir John Walsham, states, that he has been anxious to ascertain as correctly as possible, first, the average duration of life among the mining population of the respective parishes in that district, and how far it appeared to be affected by their general habits as well as by the state of their domiciles; and he gives the following results:—

“By a careful examination of the parish registers, I find that in the last seven years there have died in—

The parish of Marrick 15 miners; average age, 47⅗ years.
The parish of Arkendale 70 miners; average age, 4519
The chapelry of Muker, in the parish of Grinton 39 miners; average age, 4529
The remainder of the parish of Grinton, viz. Grinton Reeth and Meblecks 40 miners; average age, 5439
Total, 164; general average, 4813

“The prevailing diseases throughout the whole district are bronchial affections and rheumatism, which may generally be attributed to exposure to cold and rain after leaving the close, warm atmosphere of the mine.

“The miners’ dwellings in Marrick are small thatched cottages, situated very near their work; they are consequently less exposed to wet and cold on their way home, but (although dry and kept tolerably clean) from the want of room and proper ventilation, the inmates are more liable to contagious disorders than the more comfortably lodged miners in the parish of Grinton. In Arkendale the houses are of a somewhat better description, but the drainage is imperfect; the habits of the people filthy and intemperate; cutaneous disorders very common; and they are frequently the victims of typhus and other malignant fevers.

“In the parish of Grinton the houses are of a decidedly superior description. Forty years ago they were mostly thatched with ling or heath; a thatched house is now rarely seen. The miners are all comfortably lodged, generally well clothed, clean, and orderly in their habits; and I have no doubt to these causes may be attributed the great difference between the mortality in this parish and that of Arkendale in the same period.

“In Muker the mortality, in proportion to its population, has been nearly the same as in Arkendale; but many of the miners work occasionally in coal-mines, are more exposed to storms, by reason of their work being at a greater distance from their dwellings; and those dwellings are also of a description inferior to those of the other townships in 197the parish of Grinton. From these circumstances I infer that the average duration of a lead-miner’s life, and his greater freedom from disease, have increased in proportion to the increased airiness and increased convenience of his dwelling.”

I have already referred to the example cited by Dr. Barham of the health of the miners in one mine, the Dolcoath mine, in the parish of Camborne, in Cornwall, where great attention is paid to obviate agencies injurious to the miners. Care is there taken in respect to ventilation in the mines. “The ventilation in Dolcoath is particularly good, and the men are healthier than in most other mines; there are more old miners.” Care is taken for the prevention of accidents. “Our ladders,” says one of the witnesses examined by Dr. Barham, “are about two fathoms and a half in length, generally with staves one foot apart. We use oak staves; old ship oak we find the best. We formerly used the hafts of the picks and other tools, but found these unsafe, the wood being sleepy and flawed, and sometimes breaking off in a moment, without having shown any outward sign of unsoundness. Iron staves, besides being at times very slippery, are apt to be corroded, so as to cut the hand. We have had no accidents on our footways for a long time.” They have introduced the safety fuse, and the witness says:—“Very few accidents now arise from explosions;” “they used to happen frequently formerly.” Care is taken of the miners on quitting the mines; hence, instead of issuing on the bleak hill side, and receiving beer in a shed, to prevent chill and exhaustion, they issue from their underground labour into a warm room, where well-dried clothes are ready for them, and warm water, and even baths are supplied from the steam furnace, and, in the instance of this mine, a provision of hot beef-soup instead of beer is ready for them in another room. The honour of having made this change is stated to be due to the Right Hon. Lady Basset, on the suggestion of Dr. Carlyon. “Hence in this mine,” says Dr. Barham, “we may fairly attribute to the combination of beneficial arrangements just noticed that in Dolcoath, where 451 individuals are employed underground, only two have died within the last three years of miners’ consumption, a statement which could not, I believe, be made with truth nor be nearly approached in respect of an equal number of miners during the same term in any other Cornish district.” The sick-club of the mine “is comparatively rich, having a fund of 1500l.

When “care” is mentioned as taken for sanitary measures, it is to be remembered that it is care only at the outset, and that when in habitual action the care required is really less, and the measures should be characterized as means for avoiding care and trouble and diminishing pecuniary loss.

The effect of sanitary care in the mines of Camborne is, so far as it has been carried, marked in the following table, made up by Mr. Blee, a medical practitioner in the neighbourhood, from the mortuary registers, showing the average age of death of the 198population as compared with the average of death in two other adjacent parishes of Illogan and Gwennap, in both of which some beneficent alterations have been made, especially in Illogan, but the works are stated to be new, and the circumstances not so favourable as at Camborne:—

Table showing the average Ages of Persons dying above 30, and registered, in three years in the Parish of Camborne, in two years in Gwennap, and in one year in Illogan.

Males. Females. Proportion per cent. of Miners’ Deaths by Mine Accidents.
Miners. Not Miners.
Gwennap 45 60 64 16
Illogan 49 68 64 32
Camborne 54 60 63 5

The improvement in Camborne had not reached the residences, where the miners kept pigs, in sties close behind the house, and a dungheap is carefully fostered in a catch-pit adjacent. Dr. Barham, and the medical men practising in the vicinity, attribute to the decomposition of vegetable matter in the “soaked soil from the receptacles near the dwellings a form of fever which has been hanging about Camborne, and has often passed into the typhoid condition, and has been attended with great prostration of strength.”[30]

I have obtained through Mr. Baker, of Leeds, who, as superintendent of factories, has had good means of making an accurate comparison, the following contrast of the results as shown in the state of mortality amidst the population of two contiguous manufacturing districts employed in similar proportions in the same description of work, and differing only in the state of the atmosphere 199in which they lived. The districts are the townships of Great Bradford and Horton, in Yorkshire, both in the parish of Bradford, and contiguous, differing only in elevation and atmospheric influence.

“The town of Bradford lies in a hollow formed by the high land of the surrounding country, a part of which forms the township of Horton, and both populations, in about an equal ratio, are employed in worsted-mills, built about the same period of time, in the same kind of architecture, with the same appliances for ventilation and purification in every respect, differing only in comparison as to numbers both of population and mills.

Population. Births. Deaths.
Bradford 34,560 1 in 25·8 1 in 37·3
Horton 17,618 1 in 28·0 1 in 47·0

“The difference between the two localities will at once be seen, and can only be accounted for by the difference in atmospheric influences, the former population being resident in ill-conditioned dwellings, without sufficient ventilation; the latter residing in localities which, though undrained in many instances, are yet open to pure air and breezes which never reach the town without the most perfect contamination.”

Dr. Barham mentions, as an example of the benevolent foresight which economizes the strength and life of workmen, and perceives that there is a profit as well as humanity in so doing, that at Tresavean, a great copper mine in Gwennap, as a substitute for the ladders, before universal, machinery has been erected for the raising and lowering of the miners. This, he states, will be effected at the cost of 2000l. at the least, but this sum, it is calculated, will soon be repaid by the saving of the time and fatigue of the men.

Such evidence as that above given, and as will be submitted in other instances, will leave little doubt that, by a combination of practicable sanitary regulations comprehending the economy of the residence as well as the place of work, the enormous suffering and waste of life which at present depresses large masses of the working population may be rendered comparatively inconsiderable. The amount of such depression on the mining population, in making it consist of young persons and more transient, is marked in a return prepared by Mr. R. Lanyon, the medical practitioner acquainted with the locality, and which was read at the Polytechnic Society in Cornwall.

On examining the ages of 2145 men engaged in mining, it was found that their average age was 30 years, and that the average period they had been engaged in work was 15 years. On examining the condition of 1033 men, artisans, agricultural labourers, living and working in the vicinity, it was found that their average age was 40 years, and that their average period of work then completed was 25 years. Of the mining population one-third only had reached 50 years of age, whilst of the non-mining population one-third had attained 70 years of age.

200I might submit these two examples, the one as a young and comparatively weak population, the other as a comparatively mature and strong population. The adult mining population of 30 years of age is not, I apprehend, a population advancing to a further stage of maturity, but one kept down by noxious agencies and premature mortality to that limit of age, with no chance for them or for other generations to pass beyond it whilst in this employment, except through the operation of sanitary measures in removing the causes of depression.

The difference in the proportions of ages between a depressed and unhealthy and a comparatively long-lived and strong population, is shown in the following comparative view of the ages of the miners and of the 1033 non-mining labourers who were living and working:—

  30 Years of Age and under 40. 40 Years and under 45. 45 Years and under 50. 50 Years and under 55. 55 Years and under 60. 60 Years and under 70. 70 Years and under 80. 80 Years and upwards.
Miners 1651 772 377 239 125 56 29 1  
Labourers 1033 695 422 Not given. 284 Not given. 144 48 7
  Per cent. Per cent. Per cent. Per cent. Per cent. Per cent. Per cent. Per cent.
Miners 47 23 14    
Labourers 67 41   27   14 ½

So that whilst in every 100 men of the younger population of workpeople there would not be 2 men of the experience beyond sixty years of age, not 8 above fifty, or not a fourth passed forty; in the older population there would be 14 beyond sixty, 27 beyond fifty, or a clear majority of mature age, and, it may be presumed, of the comparatively staid habits given by age. Dr. Scott Allison found that the average age of the living male heads of families of the collier population at Tranent whose condition he has contrasted with that of the agricultural population, and whose ages he could ascertain, was 34 years; whilst the average age of the living male heads of the agricultural families was 51 years and 10 months. He considers that the like proportions would be found to be more extensively prevalent, and would serve as fair indications of the relative condition of the different populations.

Whenever the adult population of a physically depressed district, such as Manchester, is brought out on any public occasion, the preponderance of youth in the crowd and the small proportion of aged, or even of the middle aged, amongst them is apt to strike those who have seen assemblages of the working population of other districts more favourably situated.

In the course of some inquiries under the Constabulary Force 201Commission as to the proportions of a paid force that would apparently be requisite for the protection of the peace in the manufacturing districts, reference was made to the meetings held by torchlight in the neighbourhood of Manchester. It was reported to us, on close observation by peace-officers, that the bulk of the assemblages consisted of mere boys, and that there were scarcely any men of mature age to be seen amongst them. Those of mature age and experience, it was stated, generally disapproved of the proceedings of the meetings as injurious to the working classes themselves. These older men, we were assured by their employers, were intelligent, and perceived that capital, and large capital, was not the means of their depression, but of their steady and abundant support. They were generally described as being above the influence of the anarchical fallacies which appeared to sway those wild and really dangerous assemblages. The inquiry which arose upon such statements was how it happened that the men of mature age, feeling their own best interests injured by the proceedings of the younger portion of the working classes, how they, the elders, did not exercise a restraining influence upon their less experienced fellow-workmen? On inquiring of the owner of some extensive manufacturing property, on which between 1000 and 2000 persons were maintained at wages yielding 40s. per week per family, whether he could rely on the aid of the men of mature age for the protection of the capital which furnished them the means of subsistence? he stated he could rely on them confidently. But on ascertaining the numbers qualified for service as special constables, the gloomy fact became apparent, that the proportion of men of strength and of mature age for such service were but as a small group against a large crowd, and that for any social influence they were equally weak. The disappearance by premature deaths of the heads of families and the older workmen at such ages as those recorded in the returns of dependent widowhood and orphanage, must to some extent practically involve the necessity of supplying the lapse of staid influence amidst a young population by one description or other of precautionary force.

On expostulating on other occasions with middle-aged and experienced workmen on the folly as well as the injustice of their trade unions, by which the public peace was compromised by the violences of strike after strike, without regard to the experiences of the suffering from the continued failures of their exertions for objects the attainment of which would have been most injurious to themselves, the workmen of the class remonstrated with, invariably disclaimed connexion with the proceedings, and showed that they abstained from attendance at the meetings. The common expression was, they would not attend to be borne down by “mere boys,” who were furious, and knew not what they were about. The predominance of a young and violent majority was general.

202In the metropolis the experience is similar. The mobs against which the police have to guard come from the most depressed districts; and the constant report of the superintendents is, that scarcely any old men are to be seen amongst them. In general they appear to consist of persons between 16 to 25 years of age. The mobs from such districts as Bethnal Green are proportionately conspicuous for a deficiency of bodily strength, without, however, being from that cause proportionately the less dangerously mischievous. I was informed by peace officers that the great havoc at Bristol was committed by mere boys.

The experience of the metropolitan police is also similar as to the comparatively small proportion of force available for public service from such depressed districts. It is corroborative also of the evidence as to the physical deterioration of their population, as well as the disproportion in respect to age. Two out of every three of the candidates for admission to the police force itself are found defective in the physical qualifications. It is rare that any one of the candidates from Spitalfields, Whitechapel, or the districts where the mean duration of life is low, is found to possess the requisite physical qualifications for the force, which is chiefly recruited from the open districts at the outskirts of the town, or from Norfolk and Suffolk, and other agricultural counties.

In general the juvenile delinquents, who come from the inferior districts of the towns, are conspicuously under size. In a recent examination of juvenile delinquents at Parkhurst by Mr. Kay Shuttleworth, the great majority were found to be deficient in physical organization. An impression is often prevalent that the criminal population consists of persons of the greatest physical strength. Instances of criminals of great strength certainly do occur; but speaking from observation of the adult prisoners from the towns and the convicts in the hulks, they are in general below the average standard of height.

Reverting to the observations as to the influence of adverse physical circumstances on the morals of the population, I must here include in the observation the younger portion of the population.

I might adduce the evidence of the teachers of the pauper children at Norwood to show that a deteriorated physical condition does in fact greatly increase the difficulty of moral and intellectual cultivation. The intellects of the children of such inferior physical organization are torpid; it is comparatively difficult to gain their attention or to sustain it; it requires much labour to irradiate the countenance with intelligence, and the irradiation is apt to be transient. As a class they are comparatively irritable and bad tempered. The most experienced and zealous teachers are gladdened by the sight of well-grown healthy children, which presents to them better promise that their labours will be less difficult and more lasting and successful. On one occasion a comparison was made between the progress of two sets of children in Glasgow, the one 203set taken from the wynds and placed under the care of one of the most skilful and successful infant schoolmasters, the other a set of children from a more healthy town district and of a better physical condition, placed under the care of a pupil of the master who had charge of the children from the wynds. After a trial for a sufficient time, the more experienced master acknowledged the comparative inferiority of his pupils, and his inability to keep them up to the pace of the better bodily conditioned children.

The facts indicated will suffice to show the importance of the moral and political considerations, viz., that the noxious physical agencies depress the health and bodily condition of the population, and act as obstacles to education and to moral culture; that in abridging the duration of the adult life of the working classes they check the growth of productive skill, and abridge the amount of social experience and steady moral habits in the community: that they substitute for a population that accumulates and preserves instruction and is steadily progressive, a population that is young, inexperienced, ignorant, credulous, irritable, passionate, and dangerous, having a perpetual tendency to moral as well as physical deterioration.

The group of cases of the mining population from Alston and Garrigill, it appears to me, will, when considered, afford an example of the powerful nature of the physical elements of deterioration. In that district the employers and persons of the higher classes have paid great attention to maintain the means of moral improvement. They have only not been made aware of the practicability or of the importance of sustaining the physical condition of the workpeople, as exemplified in respect to the same description of labourers at Camborne.

The duration of life amongst the mining population of the lead-miners at Alston and Garrigill, and the adjacent district, is about 14 years less than that given by the Swedish tables. Their physical condition was depressed. “The young men appeared very healthy, but exceedingly few of them,” says Dr. Mitchell, “were of a large size; and in general it may be said they are of a small size.” He states that in moral condition they are most exemplary:—

“The means of education in Alston parish are extensive: there is the grammar-school, the master of which must be acquainted with Latin, but he gives a general education; there is a charity-school, and a school kept by a master on his own account; there is the school of the London Lead Company at Nenthead, at which other children besides those of their own workpeople are allowed to attend. There is a school at Garrigill Gate, and one at Tynehead, and another at Leadgate; there are also many dame schools and 10 Sunday schools. * * * I procured the catalogues of several libraries, and the books are such as to convey valuable information, and are far superior to most of the works which are found in the catalogues of the institutions called literary and scientific in and about the metropolis. * * * As to the intellectual condition of the people, it is decidedly superior to that of any district of 204England of which I have any knowledge. The witnesses uniformly manifested a clearness of comprehension of the inquiries made of them, and gave distinct replies, and added of themselves other information hearing on the subject. Almost all of them could sign their evidence, and most of them wrote exceedingly well. * * * The evidence of the employers and the parochial authorities, as well as of the men themselves, fully proves that there is a very general sobriety, and that the contrary practice is exceedingly rare. * * * Offences against property are very rare. It may be doubted whether we may consider it a proof of the honesty of the people, that pigs of lead may be seen lying by the road sides and in the fells as much exposed as so many stones. There is no magistrate nearer to Alston than a distance of 14 miles. Offences against the law are very rare.”

Instances have been frequently presented in the course of this inquiry of the moral degradation of the children of workpeople, and of the workpeople themselves, who have once been what those miners now are in moral condition; but the cases taken from the pauper roll of the union will serve to show that even a good education will not, of itself, sustain such a body of workmen against the physical causes of depression. The group of cases of widowhood, when considered, will serve to show that the causes in question create the evils of which they are supposed to be natural correctives.

With such an educated class of workmen, the obtainment of a place and the wages of an adult must be the necessary preliminary to a marriage, and unless such place or wages were obtained, the young workman would either remain single or seek employment further a-field. But we will suppose, for illustration, that a casualty occurs, such as the last death on the list, J. M., where a young miner who has married and has a wife and two children is prematurely swept away by an epidemic at 21 years of age, leaving a widow and two destitute orphan children dependent on poor relations, or on the ratepayers. The first mentioned, say S. H., then takes the vacant place of work, marries, and is killed at 34 years of age by “an accident in the mine,” leaving a widow and seven orphan children. This third vacancy in the place of work is occupied by another miner H. Y., who marries and works until he is 45, when he is killed by “consumption,” leaving a widow and five children.

Such casualties do not of course actually so fall on any one place of work, but the vacancies so created in different places at the younger periods of life must be and are supplied by new hands coming into the employment, and marrying as a consequence of that employment, and the succession will fairly represent 1 he mode in which the vacancies created by the various causes of death displayed in the last table and in the other tables of the causes of premature widowhood and orphanage occur.

In works where the average period of working ability is extended to the natural period of superannuation, which the evidence 205shows that a combination of internal and external sanitary measures maybe expected to give, namely an average of full 60 years, the account for one place would be one superannuated workman and one widow, and a family of four or five well-grown children, who, having received parental care during that period, will probably all have obtained, before its termination, the means of independent self-support. Whereas with a population of only 15 or 20 years of working ability, the same place of work may during the same period have been filled by two generations and one-fourth of workpeople, not one of which has brought all the children dependent on it to maturity or a condition for self-support; and the account of widowhood and orphanage will frequently for the same place of work stand thus:—

Workmen prematurely Dead. Orphan Children. Years’ loss of Support.
J. M. 1 widow 2 39
S. H. 1 widow 7 26
H. Y. 1 widow 5 15

That is to say, three widows instead of one, and three sets of stunted and unhealthy children dependent for such various periods, as those above specified, and competing for employment at the same place, instead of one set of healthy children arrived at the age of working ability for self-support. The occupation of the places of work by a comparatively young and procreative population, brought forward by the premature removal of the middle aged and the aged workers, by the various causes of premature deaths—the acceleration of births by premature deaths in infancy as stated in a preceding note—will, I apprehend, sufficiently clearly account for the generally increased proportions of births in those districts where the rate of mortality is high; and it will scarcely be necessary to give further illustrations of the dreadful fallacy which tends to an acquiescence in the continuance of the causes of pestilence and premature mortality as correctives of the pressure of population.”

Though the deaths from accidents bear only a small proportion to the deaths from disease, yet registries show that the scattered deaths from various descriptions of violence amount to an average of about 12,000 yearly, in England and Wales alone, or more than aroused the national attention in the late massacre of the troops of the empire during the war in India. The position which this class of causes occupy, in the production of destitute orphanage and widowhood, is shown in the previous tables; but these do not comprehend the whole of the effects; another class of which appear on examining the causes of pauperism: namely, the injuries which occasion permanent disablement. In an analysis of the causes of pauperism, by Mr. Simkiss, the auditor of the Wolverhampton union, the cases of which the subjoined is a list were apparent on the pauper-roll.

No. of Cases. Previous Occupations of the Paupers. Nature of Accident. Respective Ages.
18 Miners Hurt in mines 21, 23, 27, 30, 34, 34, 40, 40, 43, 44, 47, 49, 50, 50, 51, 53, 60, 60.
2 Ditto Burnt in mines 40, 60.
1 Locksmith Lamed by accident 30.
1 Wheelwright Accident by waggon 69.
1 Single woman Lost her arm by accident. 23.

On examining the individual cases of deaths that are classed as incident to the pursuit of the chief branches of mining or manufacturing industry, or in transport whether by land or water, it has always been satisfactory to find that for the future, by care, the greater proportion of them are preventible. In the case of the mining accidents, one part of them appear preventible by care of the superior managers of the mines—in arrangements over which the individual workman has no control; the other portion, by intelligence and care on the part of the workmen; and this last class of cases again reverts back to the power, and therefore to the means of imposing responsibility on the employers in the selection of educated and intelligent workmen—of habits of sobriety, and care to qualify them for works of danger. But at present they are, in a great measure, relieved from responsibility by the charge incurred by the want of care being thrown on other funds raised from persons who have as yet no practicable means of protection or prevention. When continued and dreadful losses of life take place, in the face of examples of successful prevention such as might be collected from every part of the country, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that if the branch of industry were charged with the pecuniary consequences of the losses assumed to be necessarily incident to it, generations would not be allowed to pass away in fear, recklessness, and misery without the early adoption of those means of prevention which self-interest would then stimulate. A frequent suggestion made upon the view of such casualties is that government inspectors should be appointed to inspect and direct and regulate machinery.

This subject was brought under consideration in the course of the proceedings of the Factory Commission of Inquiry, and it was then agreed that such a measure as that of inspection would only give an imperfect security, and would occasion vexatious interruptions, and that the least objectionable mode of interference, as well as the most efficient and just as a means of prevention, would be to charge a portion at least of the cost of such casualties upon the branch of industry. Subsequent observation, especially of the causes of pauperism, have strengthened my convictions of the 207soundness of the principle of prevention as stated in our Report, a passage from which I have submitted in the Appendix.[31]

In illustration of the pecuniary cost of disease, as shown in the cost of remedies in Scotland, there are several documents. The late Dr. Cowan, the professor of Forensic medicine at Glasgow, gives one in which he states—

“If any arguments were wanting to arouse the community to the investigation of this important subject, they might be drawn from the heavy pecuniary tax which fever entails on the benevolent of our city, from the poverty, misery, and crime which this disease engenders. It is not possible, from the data before me, to give anything like an accurate calculation of the sums spent for the treatment of fever in Glasgow during the last twenty years. The following calculation intentionally falls considerably under the amount, to prevent every suspicion of exaggeration:—

  £. s. d.
1. Cost of the fever hospital 8,566 7 9
2. Temporary hospitals, and maintenance of patients in them 5,000 0 0
3. 21,691 patients at 1l. 10s. treated at the expense of the infirmary 32,536 10 0

    £46,102 17 9
    ======= == =

To this amount fall to be added the expense of treating the poor in their own houses under the district surgeons of the burgh, and any sums expended by the heritors or the gorbals and barony parishes for similar purposes. But this sum must have been greatly increased by the demands of pauperism produced by fever, on our poor’s-rates, and on the private benevolence of our citizens; for the duration of the disease, and the period of convalescence which must elapse before an individual can resume his work will average rather more than six weeks, and when to this is added the difficulty of again finding immediate employment, we may safely assume that the 12,895 individuals treated in the fever hospitals during the last seven years, all, with few exceptions, depending on their daily labour and extending the benefit of that labour to others, were out of employment for a period of at least six weeks.”

The Rev. G. Lewis, the minister of St. David’s parish, Dundee, who has answered the queries issued by the Board, and very powerfully addressed the inhabitants on this subject, in the course of one of his addresses, observes that—

“Apart altogether from the waste of human life, and the indescribable suffering and sorrow which annually fall upon the working classes of Dundee from this periodical scourge, and viewed only as a mere matter of profit and loss to the mercantile and monied interest of Dundee, it were easy to demonstrate, that the expenditure of several thousand 208pounds per annum, in providing the means of cleanliness to this town, in the better cleansing of its streets, but, above all, of its back closes, courts, and lanes, and the clearing away of those pestilential masses of building which lie concealed from view behind the front lines of some of our principal streets, would have been rewarded by a saving to the community of a vast sum, which the ravages of disease and death have been, for the last few years, compelling Dundee to pay in a way its inhabitants think not of. That this may appear, I have brought into one table the number of cases of fever during the last seven years.

Cases of Fever in Dundee during the last seven years, from 1833 to 1839, inclusive, calculated from the Bills of Mortality according to the proportion of nine cases to each death:—
Year. Cases. Deaths.
1833 1,188 132
1834 1,521 169
1835 1,179 131
1836 2,673 297
1837 1,881 209
1838 1,773 197
1839 1,593 177

  11,808 1,312

“Thus, in seven years, fever has fallen on much more than a tithe of the inhabitants,—choosing its victims here, as elsewhere, in the manhood of life, and compelling the citizens of Dundee to pay a tax frightful in the amount of personal sufferings and family bereavements.

“But it were a mistake to imagine that the sufferings and death of so many citizens are the only tithes which fever has compelled us to pay during the last seven years. Put wholly aside the details of domestic woe and personal suffering which 11,808 cases of fever have introduced into the families of Dundee in these seven years—omit all reckoning of the watching, want, and wretchedness, wrapped up in so many cases of acute disease, and the family bereavements implied in these 1,312 death—and let us view for a moment our fellow-creatures but as so many machines suspended from work by the derangement or destruction of the human machinery, that we may learn something of the probable money loss incurred by fever in these seven years.

“From Dr. Southwood Smith, the highest authority on these subjects, we learn that fully one-half of the cases of fever occur in the prime of life, when men are most useful either to their families or to society. Deducting then the 1,312 deaths from the whole number of cases, there will remain 10,496 cases of fever, the one-half of whom, at least, were adults,—that is, 5,248 persons in the prime of life, very many of them heads of families, had fever in these seven years. Now, the average period fever detains a patient from work, according to the same authority, is six weeks. Let us take the earnings in health of these adults at the average of 8s. weekly; and the loss of wages to these 5,248 adults, by six weeks’ fever, amounts to 12,595l.; and this, after excluding all under age, and all the deaths. But these cases, whether treated at home or at the infirmary, must be also loaded with the expense of medical treatment, 209which is estimated in our infirmary reports at 1l. to each case, that is, 5,248l. must he added to the loss by wages. But 5,248 cases of those under age remain to be accounted for; and, as fever rarely attacks mere children, but chiefly those either in manhood or approaching manhood, we may estimate the loss of their labour at the one-half of the adults, or 6,297l. 12s., and the expense of attendance and recovery at one-half also, or 2,624l.

“But how shall we estimate the pecuniary loss of 1,312 deaths? It seems a strange thing to go about estimating the money value of that which money did not give, and cannot restore when taken away; yet as there are those who understand better a profit and loss account than the arguments of religion and humanity, we shall attempt to estimate the money loss of these 1,312 deaths by fever.

“At least one-half, or 656 of these deaths, were deaths of adults, and very many of them heads of families, of which the 337 widows in St. David’s parish afford melancholy evidence.”

He then refers to an estimate made by Mr. M’Culloch, who, viewing a human being as a productive machine, reared to last a certain time, and to return so much more than he costs, estimates a full-grown workman just, arrived at maturity as having 300l. of capital invested in him. At the actual cost of maintaining and training a pauper child in England at the school in Norwood, 4s. 6d. per week, he will have had expended upon him at 21 years of age, 245l., or at 30 years, 350l.; but he supposes—

“The money value of these male and female adults to be just the one-half of this, or 150l., which makes the loss, by the premature death of these 656 adults, to be 98,400l.; and, if the remaining 656 under the age of maturity, yet approaching it, be taken at the half of the adults, or 75l. each, we have a loss of 49,200l. more; to which, if we add 1l. a-piece, or 1,312l. in all, for attendance and medical expenses, the Fever Bill of Dundee, during the last seven years, will stand as follows:—

Fever Bill of Dundee from 1833 to 1839.
£. s. d.
Loss of labour for six weeks of 5,248 adults at 8s. a-week 12,595 0 0
Attendance, medicine at home or infirmary, at 1l. each 5,248 0 0
Loss of labour for six weeks of 5,248 under age, at 4s. a-week 6,297 12 0
Expense of treatment of the above at infirmary or home, at 10s. a-piece 2,624 0 0
Loss by death of 656 adults, at 150l. each. 98,400 0 0
Loss by 656 deaths under age, at 75l. a-piece 49,200 0 0
Treatment of 1,312 cases, at 1l. each 1,312 0 0

  £175,676 12 0
Or 25,096l. 13s. per annum.

“The poor, we are told, we shall always have with us, and so with disease and death. Yet the evils, both of poverty and disease, come in 210very different measures to different communities. As there is a poverty that is self-inflicted, and may be self-removed, so there is a certain amount of disease and annual mortality in every city that is self-inflicted; and the community that does not strive, by every available means, to reduce its disease and mortality bills to the lowest sum of human suffering, and the lowest rate of annual mortality, is as guilty of suicide as the individual who, Judas like, takes with his own hands the life God has given, and hurries unbidden into the presence of his Judge. The fever bills of the Scottish towns, contrasted with those of the English commercial towns, declare too plainly that man has not yet done his part in Dundee to avert this scourge of society; and, while fever is undoubtedly to be regarded as the visitation of God, it is also to be regarded as the visitation of God for the sin of neglecting a population fallen in character and habits.

In the following table are given the deaths in Dundee in seven years, and the rate to the population,—supposing the inhabitants in 1831 to have been 45,355 souls, and to have increased about 2000 annually, until 1839, when from bad trade the increase was checked:—

Years. Deaths. Population. Proportion of Deaths to the Population.
1833 1,482 49,355 1 in 33·3
1834 1,650 51,355 1 in 31·1
1835 1,673 53,355 1 in 31·9
1836 1,923 55,355 1 in 28·8
1837 1,963 57,355 1 in 29·2
1839 1,511 59,355 1 in 39·3
1839 1,763 59,355 1 in 33·7

  11,965 385,485 1 in 32·2

Thus, the average mortality in Dundee, during the last seven years, was 1 in 32 annually. * * * Here, then, in Dundee, the deaths annually are at least one-fourth more than over the rest of Scotland, Glasgow excepted, which seems to surpass Dundee in the waste of human life. If the deaths are a fourth greater, those diseases which are its harbingers must be many times greater than the deaths; and to this extent, at least, it was in the power of human means to have provided a remedy,—to have abated by one-fourth the physical suffering and mortality of Dundee, saved 2,952 persons from fever, and 328 persons from premature death, and reduced by a fourth part the pecuniary loss incurred during the last seven years,—in other words, to have saved 43,919l., or 6,274l. annually, to the profit and loss account of this city in the single item of fever.

“The statistics of small-pox in Dundee might be added to this bill of charges. It is sufficient, however, to allude to it. Last year, the deaths by small-pox were 77. In 1838, they were also 77; and in 1837, they amounted to 126. The number of cases, of course, must have been many times the deaths; by far the greater number under age and unvaccinated,—a neglect no longer confined to the Irish population.

“Though I am no medical authority, yet I am sure that I have every medical authority with me when I connect, as foremost amongst the 211causes of the enormous Fever Bill of Dundee that monstrous Tavern Bill, which last lecture I showed you was the worm in the bud of the happiness and well-being of its working classes. That Tavern Bill, according to the mean of three different estimates, amounts to 21,234l. a-year in my parish alone, and to 180,000l. a-year to all Dundee. In vain we cry out against the taxation of Government. While the words of complaint are on our lips, here is a vice of continual tasting and tippling in strong drink,—a private self-imposed tax, but heavier far than any public tax. It is this besetting sin that has been not only devouring the substance of the poor, but every year sowing the seeds of that enormous Fever Bill which for the last seven years has been taxing us, not only in purse but in person,—compelling every tenth man in Dundee during that period to pay the wages of six weeks’ labour, and to suffer all the langour, sickness, and oppression of six weeks’ fever, besides the bereaved widows and orphans, and the fatherless and motherless children it has left in Dundee.”

I now proceed to submit the reasons for believing that the immediate expenditure of so much money as would be incurred by the adoption of such of the remedial measures as appear to be available by the agency of any public administration would be sound measures of immediate economy, and of ultimate public gain: and also the grounds for believing that the same conclusion is applicable to the cost of those measures of prevention which, though directly or indirectly controllable by legislative authority, are within the province of private individuals to execute, such as the construction of the dwellings of the labouring classes.


On viewing the evidence, which shows that, in most situations higher chances of life belong to the middle and higher classes of the population, an impression may be created that the higher standards of health are essentially connected with expensive modes of living. The highest medical authorities agree, however, that the more important means for the protection and advance of the health of those classes must be in still further reductions than those which it is the present tendency in the higher classes of society to make of the use of highly stimulating food. The evidence already adduced with respect to the labouring classes in the rural districts and those living on high wages in towns, will have gone some way to remove the erroneous impression with respect to them, and it admits of proof that a higher standard of health and comfort is attainable for them even at a less expense than that in which they now live in disease and misery. The experience of the effect of sanitary measures in the royal navy may be adduced as evidence of the practicable standards of health consistent with great labour and exposure to weather 212obtained at a cost not higher than that within the wages of ordinary labourers. The experience of the effects of sanitary measures in banishing spontaneous disease from crowded prisons, offers further evidence of the health obtainable by simple means, under circumstances still more unfavourable.

The prisons were formerly distinguished for their filth, and their bad ventilation; but the descriptions given by Howard of the worst prisons he visited in England (which he states were amongst the worst he had seen in Europe) were exceeded in every wynd in Edinburgh and Glasgow, inspected by Dr. Arnott and myself, in company with the municipal officers of those cities. More filth, worse physical suffering and moral disorder than Howard describes as affecting the prisoners, are to be found amongst the cellar population of the working people of Liverpool, Manchester, or Leeds, and in large portions of the metropolis. As a standard of the progress made in ameliorating the condition of prisoners, I refer to his general statement of the condition in which he found the prisons when he inspected them in England.

Water.—Many prisons have no water. This defect is frequent in bridewells and town gaols. In the felons’ courts of some county gaols there is no water: in some places where there is water, prisoners are always locked up within doors, and have no more than the keeper or his servants think fit to bring them.

Air.—And as to air, which is no less necessary than the two preceding articles, and given us by Providence quite gratis, without any care or labour of our own; yet, as if the bounteous goodness of heaven excited our envy, methods are contrived to rob prisoners of this genuine cordial of life, as Dr. Hales very properly calls it; I mean by preventing that circulation and change of the fluid without which animals cannot live and thrive. It is well known that air which has performed its office in the lungs is feculent and noxious. Writers upon this subject show that a hogshead of air will last a man only an hour: but those who do not choose to consult philosophers may judge from a notorious fact. In 1756, at Calcutta, in Bengal, out of 170 persons who were confined in a hole there one night, 154 were taken out dead. The few survivors ascribed the mortality to their want of fresh air; and called the place, Hell in Miniature.

“From hence any one may judge of the probability there is against health and life of prisoners crowded in their rooms, cells, and subterraneous dungeons, for 14 or 15 hours out of the 24. In some of those caverns the floor is very damp; in some there is sometimes an inch or two of water; and the straw or bedding is laid on such floors, seldom on barrack bedsteads. Where prisoners are not kept in underground cells, they are often confined in their rooms, because there is no court belonging to the prisons; which is the case in many city and town gaols; because the walls round the yard are ruinous, or are too low[32] 213for safety; or because the gaoler has the ground for his own use. Prisoners confined in this manner are generally unhealthy.

“In Baker’s Chronicle, p. 353, that historian, mentioning the assize held in Oxford Castle, 1577 (called, from its fatal consequences, the Black Assize), informs us, ‘that all who were present died within forty hours; the lord chief baron, the sheriff, and about 300 more.’ Lord Chancellor Bacon ascribes this to a disease brought into court by the prisoners; and Dr. Mead is of the same opinion.

“The first of these two authors, Lord Bacon, observes, that ‘the most pernicious infection, next the plague, is the smell of a jail, when the prisoners have been long close and nastily kept; whereof we have had, in our time, experience twice or thrice; when both the judges that sat upon the jail, and numbers of those who attended the business, or were present, sickened and died.’

“Sir John Pringle observes that ‘gaols have often been the cause of malignant fevers;’ and he informs us that in the late Rebellion in Scotland, above 200 men of one regiment were infected with the gaol fever by some deserters brought from prisons in England.

“Dr. Lind, physician to the royal hospital at Haslar, near Portsmouth, showed me, in one of the wards, a number of sailors ill of the gaol fever, brought on board their ship by a man who had been discharged from a prison in London. The ship was laid up on the occasion. That gentleman, in his ‘Essay on the Health of Seamen,’ asserts that ‘the source of infection to our armies and fleets are undoubtedly the gaols; we can often trace the importers of it directly from them. It often proves fatal in impressing men on the hasty equipment of a fleet. The first English fleet sent last war to America lost by it above 2000 men. In another place he assures us that the seeds of infection were carried from the guard-ships into our squadrons; and the mortality thus occasioned was greater than by all other diseases or means of death put together.’

“It were easy to multiply instances of this mischief; but those I have mentioned are, I presume, sufficient to show, even if no mercy were due to prisoners, that the gaol distemper is a ‘national concern’ of no small importance.”

Sewers.—Some gaols have no sewers or vaults; and in those that have, if they be not properly attended to, they are, even to a visitant, offensive beyond description; how noxious, then, to people confined constantly in those prisons!

“One cause why the rooms in some prisons are so close is the window-tax, which the gaolers have to pay; this tempts them to stop the windows and stifle their prisoners.

Bedding.—In many gaols, and in most bridewells, there is no allowance of bedding or straw for prisoners to sleep on; and if by any means they get a little, it is not changed for months together, so that it is offensive and almost worn to dust. Some lie upon rags, others upon bare floors. When I have complained of this to the keepers, 214their justification has been: ‘the county allows no straw; the prisoners have none but at my cost.’”

Since Howard succeeded in gaining national attention to the condition of prisoners, the evils of prison management have been removed. A large proportion of the prison population is taken from the worst regulated and most confined neighbourhoods, which have been the subject of examination; and, with the view to judge what might be effected by sanitary regulations, I have made frequent inquiries as to the effects of sanitary measures on the worst class of persons, the larger proportion of whom are taken from the worst neighbourhoods, that is, as to the effects of living in the same atmosphere, on a less expensive diet than that of the general labouring population, but provided with clean and tolerably well-ventilated places of work and sleeping-rooms, and where they are required to be cleanly in their persons.

I have obtained through Mr. Hill, the prison inspector of Scotland, an accurate return of the number of days which the prisoners had been absent from labour on the ground of ill health in the celebrated prison at Glasgow, where the separate system of confinement has been tried (Return No. 1); a similar return from the Edinburgh prison, (No. 2). I also obtained a careful examination of the amount of sickness prevalent amongst the prisoners at Salford prison, (No. 3). The average cost of the diets, (principally vegetable,) at Salford, varied from 1s. 4d. to 1s. 6d. per week; at Edinburgh, 1s. 9d. per week; and at Glasgow, 1s. 7d. per week. Vide Appendix.

The medical practitioners, who are well acquainted with the general state of health of the population surrounding the prisons concur in vouching to the fact, upon their own knowledge, that the health of the prisoners is in general much higher than the health almost of any part of the surrounding population; that the prisoners, as a class, are below the average of health when they enter the prisons; that they come from the worst neighbourhoods; that many of them come from the lodging-houses, which, in those towns, as will be shown, are the constant seats of disease; that they are mostly persons of intemperate habits; that many of them come in in a state of disease from intemperance and bad habits; and notwithstanding the depressing influence of imprisonment, the effect of cleanliness, dryness, better ventilation, temperance, and simple food, is almost sufficient to prevent disease arising within the prison, and to put the prisoners in a better working condition at the termination than at the commencement of their imprisonment. At the Glasgow bridewell, the prisoners are weighed on their entrance and at their discharge, and it is found that, on the average, they gained in weight by their imprisonment.[33] At Edinburgh, there 215were instances of poor persons in a state of disease committed from motives of humanity to the prison, that they might be taken care of and cured. The tables are to be taken as showing imperfectly the comparative effects of the different circumstances; because, when a labourer is obliged to leave work he loses wages; and it is known of large classes of them, that they often work improvidently and injuriously to their chances of recovery by continuing at work in impaired health too long; the prisoner, on the contrary, by absence on the sick list, gains ease and exemption from slave labour; and the officers have constantly to contend against feigned sickness to avoid task-work and punishment. It should also be noted that a large proportion of the sickness of the prisoners is of a character that is excluded from all tables of insurance, from the benefit societies as being specially excluded from their benefits. The numbers imprisoned at the lower ages, or above 36 years of age, were too few to form any comparison:—

Average Annual Sickness of Male Prisoners in the Labourers and Operatives. No. 7.
Average Annual Sickness of Members of Benefit Societies in Scotland.
No. 8.
Average Annual Sickness of provident portion of Working Classes throughout Great Britain, according to the experience of Mr. Finlaison.
No. 1.
Glasgow Prison.
No. 2.
Edinburgh Prison.
No. 3.
Salford Prison.
No. 4.
Employed in East-India Company’s Warehouses.
No. 5.
Average duration of Sickness per annum of every person employed in Cotton Factories of Lancashire.
No. 6.
Males of Families in Wynds of Edinburgh.
Age. Days & Decimals. Days & Decimals. Days & Decimals. Days & Decimals. Days & Decimals. Days & Decimals. Years of Age. Days & Decimals. Days & Decimals.
Under 16 Years           3·5      
16 to 21 3·05 4·01 3·10 4·02 4·42 2·3 18 2·5 5·18
21 to 26 1·83 2·04 1·64 5·40 4·91 5·1 23 3·8 6·75
26 to 31 2·65 2·33 2·72 4·49 6·88 11·0 28 4·6 6·78
31 to 36 2·83 3·10 2·63 4·55 3·85 8·3 33 5·6 6·33
36 to 41 9·00 5·10 ·85 5·57 4·13 4·1 38 6·2 7·86
41 to 46 ·49 2·75 ·51 5·18 5·69 15·1 43 8·8 9·02
46 to 51       5·43 7·18 30·0 48 9·1 11·76
51 to 56       6·80 3·47 16·2 53 14·8 16·77
56 to 61       7·21 12·68 30·4 58 17·8 23·57
61 to 66       10·24   42·7 63 20·0 33·22
66 to 71       9·93   64·2 68 36·0 61·22
71 to 76       10·60   41·0 73 38·6 101·44
76 to 81       12·67   83·6 78 70·9 164·72

The total number of male prisoners in the three prisons from which the returns were compiled was 7,328; of which number, in the Glasgow prison there were 1,796, in the Edinburgh prison 1,256, and in the Salford prison 4,276 prisoners. The columns inserted in the above table from the prisons give only the amount 216of sickness prevalent amongst the males. The returns which are given in full in the Appendix contain the amount of sickness prevalent among the female prisoners also.

The information as to the actual amount of sickness prevalent amongst the labouring classes is at present extremely defective for the purposes of insurance. One of the most authentic tables is that compiled by Dr. Mitchell, from returns we obtained under the Factory Commission of Inquiry, of the experience of sickness amongst the labourers employed by the East India Company in their warehouses in London. The experience was from 2461 workmen employed during ten years. (Return No. 4.)

This is a highly favourable table, inasmuch as the men were, in the first instance, select, nearly as much so as recruits in the army; care was also taken to give men who became infirm such labour as they could perform without exertion; but, above all, they had the benefit of medical advice without any expense, and being thereby induced to make early application, disease was cut short at once on its first appearance. Moreover, they were not allowed to return to work until they had a medical certificate of their cure.

Another table (No. 5) given is one of the amount of sickness experienced by the male operatives in the cotton mills in England, also deduced from the returns directed to be made under the Factory Commission of Inquiry. But these returns do not include the experience of the mills in Manchester, which was not collected by the district commissioners.

The table (No. 6) is that made up by Mr. Tait, surgeon, from his inquiries of the experience of sickness in the wynds of Edinburgh.

The next table (No. 7) is made up from the experience of benefit societies in Scotland, subsequent to the experience tables which were compiled by the Highland Society; but this is the experience of a select class, which appears to me to be too favourable for general use in Scotland.

The next table (No. 8) is one in use by Mr. Finlaison, the actuary at the National Debt Office, prepared from various sources of information. It has been tried by the experience of a large benefit society in Bethnal Green, and the allowance for sickness was found to be low as compared with the sickness occurring amongst the labouring classes in that district.

The account given by Mr. Tait, of his investigation of the sickness which had prevailed amongst 335 persons in 180 families, exhibited in column No. 5, is as follows:—

“The parts visited may be considered a fair specimen of the Edinburgh wynds and closes. They consist of Gillon’s and Gibb’s Closes, Canongate, Blackfriars’ Wynd, Bremot’s and Skinner’s Closes, High Street, and Meal-market Stairs, Cowgate. The drainage of all these places is bad; the sewers are without exception open, and those in Gillon’s and Gibb’s Closes being nearly on a dead level, keep these places 217constantly in a filthy condition. The poverty of the inhabitants who reside in Gibb’s Close, especially, is also extreme, five out of seven families living in apartments without furniture. The ventilation in general is also bad: several apartments are so close that it is difficult for a person when he first enters them to breathe. In several instances I had to retreat to the door to write down my notes, as I found the stench and close atmosphere produce a sickening sensation which, on one occasion, terminated in vomiting. Although some of the apartments visited were tidy and clean, in general they were the reverse. It is impossible to conceive or describe the filthy condition of some of them. Many of them were very small, and others rather capacious, considering the quantity of furniture they contained. The diseases mentioned were such as to throw the persons affected out of employment. There were many cases of slight and continued ailment of which no notice was taken. No case of rheumatism was taken down unless so severe as to lay the person entirely off work.

“About 180 families were visited, but only 117 of them had been one year and upwards in their present dwelling: all the cases of sickness occurred between Martinmas, 1840, and Martinmas, 1841, and none of the patients,” i. e. of whom any account was taken, “were under ten years of age,” those under that age being intentionally excluded.

Mr. Hill states, that he has no doubt the results, which will be apparent from the examination of the several tables which are placed in juxta-position, would be corroborated by similar returns obtained from other well-regulated prisons in Scotland. The returns from the prisons in England up to the year 1834–5 (which do not, however, give the days of sickness, but only the number of prisoners attacked with sickness during the period for which the return was made) further corroborate these results. Even in the Milbank Penitentiary, the situation of which is insalubrious, the average annual amount of sickness to the prisoners who are confined two years and a half is only about eight days to each person, which, for the average ages, is little above the standard obtained from the experience of the East India Company’s labourers. The sickness amongst the metropolitan police is about 10½ days per annum for each of the force, 2¾ per cent. being constantly on the sick-list. The sickness in the army is on the average 14½ days each soldier. Mr. Finlaison informs me he can venture to state, that were any benefit society to use scales of premiums founded on the prison experience, they would inevitably be insolvent in less than three years.

M. Villermé has shown the diminution of mortality that has taken place in the prisons of France, chiefly from stricter attention to cleanliness, ventilation, and diet, to be equally striking. At Lyons, from 1800 to 1806, the annual mortality in the prisons was 1 in 19; from 1806 to 1812, it was 1 in 31; from 1812 to 1819, it was 1 in 34; and from 1820 to 1826, 1 in 43: a similar amelioration has also been remarked in the prisons of Rouen, and some other large towns in that kingdom.

The following is a summary return of the diseases of the duration 218of each, amongst the population of the wynds, examined by Mr. Tait:—

Nature of Disease. No. of Cases. Average duration of Disease. No. of Deaths. No. of Families visited. No. of Persons visited.
Disease of Lungs 23 1 117 335
Rheumatism 9 9      
Accidents 9      
Erysipelas 3 8      
Inflammation of Throat 3 5      
Fever 15 1    
Palsy 4   1    
Dropsy 1 7      
Disease of Liver 1        
Jaundice 1 4      
Carbuncle 1 5      
Affection of Urinary Organs 1 17      
Acute affection of Brain 2 3 1    
Small-pox 2 5 1    
Opthalmia 1 6      
Whitlow 1 3      
Lumbago 2 7      
Eruptive disease 1 9      
Inflammation of Stomach 1        
Ague 1 4      
Abscess of Loins 1 5      
Total 83   5 117 335

It may be safely pronounced that if such an amount of sickness were known to prevail in a prison containing between 300 and 400 prisoners, the circumstance would excite public alarm and attention.

Any of the preceding tables of the lower amounts of sickness may be taken as practicable standards of the extent to which it were possible, by the removal of the causes of disease, to bring the health of the labouring population.

I may here observe, that the tables of sickness above referred to exhibit the very unsatisfactory footing on which the means of insurance against sickness and mortality within the reach of the labouring classes are now placed. An artisan of the condition of the East India Company’s labourers who insures for an allowance for sickness between the age of 61 and 66 years, which, according to the experience of his own class, would be a period of 10 days, would have to pay for 20 days, or 10 days in excess if he insured on the tables of the experience of benefit societies in Scotland, or 23 days in excess if he insured on tables founded on the experience collected by Mr. Finlaison. On the other hand, were a benefit 219society composed of members living under depressed circumstances, as in close courts or ill-drained districts, to adopt the table of the experience of the East India Company’s labourers, and to take members, living under the circumstances indicated by the Highland societies or Mr. Finlaison’s tables, the allowance on such a rate of insurance would be fraught with certain and speedy loss of the funds of the contributors. Having received contributions for an allowance on the chances of 10 days’ sickness, they would, upon insurances from the wynds of Edinburgh, have to pay for 40 days. The range of variation in the chances of life in different districts, such as have been shown in the returns from the different towns, exhibiting the mortality amongst the different classes, all present instances of the ruin to which benefit societies are exposed in acting upon tables calculated only for select classes, or on the mean experience of large classes, or of many classes differing widely in their circumstances. The probabilities of life at infancy for the whole population of Liverpool, as deduced from the actual ages of deaths of the whole population, would be 17 years; but on the Northampton tables of probability, payment would be required for the insurance of 25 years at infancy; for 38 years according to the Carlisle table; and if a male, for 37 years, according to the Swedish table. Yet such are the data and their applications on which large masses of savings and property are frequently invested and made dependent in various forms of insurance in benefit societies. The ruin of such societies is, I lament to say, by no means an unfrequent occurrence. The most painful spectacle that is presented in a painful and difficult service is that of a hardworking, industrious labourer, who has lived frugally and saved rigidly, who in his old age is stripped of his savings and reduced to destitution. One such example is enough to destroy the frugality of a whole village, and of all the labourers to whom it is presented. The necessity of a revision of all the tables which govern the subscriptions to friendly societies and the allowances from them, is strongly suggested by the evidence. It is to be lamented that, before giving tables of sickness or mortality to the members of benefit societies, many of the actuaries who have advised them have made no inquiries as to the condition of the neighbourhoods where the members reside or as to their general circumstances. The best advice to the labourers for the future will, however, be proved to be, that the most safe, economical, and efficient outlay as an insurance, will be in their own contributions, in rates or extra rent where needful for the execution of sanitary measures.

The further example adverted to as to the efficiency of preventive measures, is furnished by the naval medical service.

So dreadful was once the condition of the navy that, in the year 1726, when Admiral Hosier sailed with seven ships of the line to the West Indies, he buried his ships’ companies twice, 220and died himself of a broken heart. Amongst the pictures then presented, as in Anson’s Voyages, 1740–44, were those of deaths to the amount of eight or ten a-day in a moderate ship’s company; bodies sewn up in hammocks and washing about the decks, for want of strength and spirit on the part of the miserable survivors to cast them overboard. Dr. Johnson, in the year 1778, thus describes a sea life:—“As to the sailor, when you look down from the quarter-deck to the space below, you see the utmost extremity of human misery; such crowding, such filth, such stench!” “A ship is a prison, with the chance of being drowned,—it is worse, worse in every respect; worse air, worse food, worse company.”

Dr. Wilson, in his preface to the Medical Returns, observes that, within the limits of the South American command, the Centurion, exactly a century ago, lost in a few weeks 200 out of 400 men by scurvy. During the years from 1830 to 1836, the British squadron employed in South America, lost by diseases of every description only 115 out of 17,254 men. He observes—

“There is no reason to doubt that instead of every second man perishing miserably within a few weeks, the rate of mortality might have been as low as that exhibited in the South American Report, viz., one death annually by disease out of 150 men. Now there was nothing new nor mysterious in the pestilence either as to its origin or its essence: it was not a sudden climatorial influence which could not be resisted nor understood; it was a well-known affection presenting all the signs of utter prostration and pointing to pure debility as its source, the effects principally of scanty, unwholesome, unvarying diet and bad water—partly of inadequate attention to cleanliness, order, and ventilation, and the nearly total neglect of systematic attention to measures for amusing, cheering, and improving the mind with which resulting despondency often cooperated. The remedy therefore would appear to have been self-evident and at hand, not to the commanders of ships and fleets, but to the administration. Information on many points in the animal economy was certainly less exact than it is now, and vague unfounded notions prevailed of necessary relations existing between a sea-life and scurvy. Hence it may be concluded that ignorance rather than inhumanity was the reason why effectual measures were not long before adopted for the prevention of such terrible calamities.”

He observes further that—

In 1779 the proportion dying was 1 in 8 of the employed.

In 1811 the proportion dying was 1 in 32 of the employed.

From 1830 to 1836 the average number dying annually was 1 in 72 of the employed.


“In this calculation, the deaths from all sources are included from wounds, drowning, and all other external causes as well as from disease. From the latter source the deaths were in the proportion of 1 to 85 of the number employed annually. When it is considered that the ratio applies to the whole service, and therefore includes the most unhealthy 221sections, the Coast of Africa and the West Indies, it will be admitted, even without reference to former periods, to be very low.”[34]

The scurvy, once so fatal in the navy, is now almost unknown in men-of-war, whilst it still prevails often to a most serious extent in the mercantile navy where the same care is not taken. It was a popular opinion in the navy, that the use of lemon juice in the grog was a specific against scurvy; but it is stated that the health of seamen has in some instances been advanced by the discontinuance of the grog itself, and the substitution of coffee. Dr. Nisbett says, “I may state generally, that this substance (lemon juice) in the quantities usually issued (one ounce per diem) does not prevent the appearance of scurvy under circumstances favourable to its production; that in increased quantities it appears to have some power of arresting, at least for a time, this disease in its earlier stages, and is thus of great value; but that it is not to be considered an antidote, and that the only cure for this disease is a full diet of fresh meat and vegetables;” the preventives being, general and personal cleanliness, ventilation, and liberal supplies of good water, in addition to supplies of wholesome food.

The mortality of the home force ships employed chiefly in harbour duty, &c. (where of course they were not cut off from communication or means of infection from the shore,) in Great Britain and Ireland, gives the rate of mortality obtainable by sanitary means, even now confessedly imperfect especially in ventilation, amongst a male population ranging from 15 to 50 years of 222age, and may be taken as illustrative of the amount of health attainable on shore.

In 1830 the deaths in the navy from disease independently of external causes were—

Disease, per 1000. All Causes, per 1000.
1830 6·0 8·7
1831 11·5 3·4
1832 11·9 14·0
1833 6·3 7·9
1834 4·9 6·7
1835 5·9 7·2
1836 7·5 9·5

Mr. Finlaison has lately calculated that the deaths on shore out of 1000 of the population of 29 years of age may be estimated at about 12 per annum. Mr. Rickman calculated that the deaths at that age in Essex and Rutland would be about 12½ persons per 1000 per annum: for the metropolis it would be about 15½ deaths. Out of 1000 workmen in the Government dock-yards, the number of deaths were 15; and hitherto in the metropolitan police force, which is more select than the navy, the number of deaths appear to be about 9 per annum; but about the same number of men is annually invalided from the force. The proportion of deaths amongst the troops appears to be, amongst the household cavalry, 14·5, amongst the dragoons 15·3, amongst the infantry in depôt, 18·5, and amongst the foot guards 21·6. Since the Guards have been in Canada the rate of mortality has been reduced to that of other regiments.

The health of the foot guards is believed to be affected by peculiar circumstances.

I may add, as respects soldiers, that by proper care such epidemics as typhus, scarlet fever, are now scarcely known as affecting large groups in the army, and that such an occurrence would denote to the chiefs of the army medical board the existence of some great neglect into which it would be necessary to make inquiry.

Cost to tenants and owners of the public measures for drainage, cleansing, and the supplies of water, as compared with the cost of sickness.

Persons well acquainted with the inferior descriptions of tenements in Manchester state that a large proportion of them change owners in ten years, and that few remain in the same hands more than twenty years; and it is observed in other populous districts that this description of property most frequently changes hands. The chief obstacle to the execution of legislative measures for public improvements of tenements of the class in question in such 223districts has been, that large immediate outlays of capital have been required to be made in an inconvenient manner for permanent improvements, by persons possessing only short or transient interests, to whom no means are given for spreading the charge over longer periods of years to make it coincident with the benefits.

In reference to the structural arrangements which come within the public authority, the majority of professional persons the best acquainted with the description of tenements occupied by the poorer classes, and the importance of getting the work done, agree that it would, on the whole, be the most advantageous course to execute them, by loans paying interest on the security of the rates, and spread the charge over 30 years during which the original outlay should be repaid. This would allow of the annual instalment being charged in fair proportions to the tenant, and to the holders of short interests.

The outlay for the execution of measures which come within the public authority are those, 1, for bringing water on the premises; 2, for applying it to remove refuse by a cheap apparatus; 3, a drain for conveyance of the refuse to the (4) main drains or common sewer.

In the rural districts all these purposes of cleansing may, it is considered, be accomplished by means of a proper use of the rain-water; and that which is here given may be considered as a maximum estimate for towns, if the work be properly done by public contract on a large scale.

First Outlay per Tenement. Annual Instalment for Repayment in Thirty Years. Annual interest, commuted at 5 per cent. on Outlay charged as Rent on Tenant. Weekly Charge to the Tenant, or increased Rent, being the 1/54th part of the sum of the annual instalment and annual interest. Total Outlay on One-third (1,148,282 inhabited houses) of the existing Tenements in England, Wales and Scotland.
First Outlay. Annual Instalment for Repayment in Thirty Years. Annual Interest commuted at 5 per cent. on Outlay charged as Rent on Tenant.
  £. s. d. s. d. £. s. d. d. £. £. £.
Water-tank[35] and apparatus 10 8 6 6 11 0 6 8 3 11,970,840 399,028 379,687
Sewer 5 12 0 3 9 0 3 6 6,430,379 214,346 203,957
Water           0 5 0 1      
Total 10 8 0 15 2 18,401,219 613,374 583,644

224The above is a maximum estimate, and if the work be executed systematically by contract for districts, the charge may be so far reduced that it may be taken to include repairs, but if it were executed by each occupier or each owner separately, 15 per cent. must be added to the charge; and if, in addition to the separate charge incurred by neglect of legislative or administrative arrangements there be also incurred the ordinary fees of new surveyors of sewers, and new surveyors of buildings, paid by the ordinary fees, the charge for these structural improvements will be still further increased.

But the supplies of water for all the household purposes at the highest water company’s charges, which is 138 pailsful for less than 1¼d., is, in fact, to be considered a reduction of an existing expenditure of labour of fetching water.

The cost of cleansing privies is estimated as an existing charge in the metropolis and many towns of not less than 10s. per tenement annually. If the duty were duly performed the cost would perhaps be double that amount, and be equivalent to the whole of the proposed new expenditure; and taking the new expenditure as being less that charge, there only remains the cost of the new sewerage,—1½d. weekly, or 6s. 6d. annually. Supposing this charge of 1½d. weekly imposed upon the landlord, he will have to set against it the preservation of the tenement from dilapidation by drainage, which of itself would frequently repay the whole outlay. He has also the circumstance to consider that he may get better tenants by the improvement of his houses, and that with such tenants he will have more regular payments of rent. Protracted sickness and protracted losses of employment, and the frequent mortality caused by neglect of cleansing, occasion heavy losses to the owners, and occasion a greater diminution of the returns for such tenements than is commonly apparent.

One obstruction to any amendment by cleansing is occasioned by the circumstance that the laying on the water is considered a tenant’s charge, and the lower the class the more fluctuating the tenantry and the greater the reluctance of the tenant, and the less indeed are the means to make any immediate outlay for permanent purposes. To cast any immediate outlay on occupiers of this class, who have scarcely self-control to make reserves of the weekly rents, practically amounts to a prohibition of the work being done. That which will in extensive districts really be a new charge, i. e., sewerage, will fall only at the rate of the 1½d. per week per tenement, and as most tenements are now occupied in the more crowded districts, this will be a charge to be divided between two families. If it were properly distributed, it is an amount not to be spoken of as serious in the weekly charge.[36]

225New charges, for improved house accommodation, as well as for sewerage and house cleansing, may all be submitted as means for the reduction of the existing heavy charges of sickness, and of the loss of work and loss of wages consequent upon sickness. To judge of the extent of the immediate charge of sickness in money and time, which is independent of the charge of insurance against premature death, we may select the case of an ordinary family, say of a man at 40, a wife at 30, and two children, who may be represented as equivalent to one child aged 15, the lowest age estimated in the insurance tables, which for an average family is an under estimate. Now to insure these a payment of 10s. per week each during sickness, the charges would be as follows, according to the insurance tables computed by Mr. Finlaison for the guidance of benefit societies.

Age For an allowance of 10s. per week, during sickness, according to the Table constructed by Mr. Finlaison, the Actuary of the National Debt Office.
Monthly Payment. Single Payment.
  £. s. d. £. s. d.
Man, 40 0 2 11 27 5 2
Woman, 30 0 1 11½ 21 0 6
Child, 15 0 1 14 18 1
Total per family 0 6 63 3 9
Total annual charge 3 13 9      
Total weekly charge per family 0 1 5      

In the course of the Factory Commission of Inquiry in 1834, we ascertained that the wages of upwards of 40,000 employed in the cotton mills, of whom two-thirds were below the adolescent stage, amounted, on the average, to 10s. 5d. per week. Up to the beginning of the present year the wages of those in work were not lower. Mr. Finlaison’s table, therefore, will best represent the existing pecuniary charge of sickness from the loss of wages to a family in such a district in ordinary seasons of employment. The actual charge of sickness in time lost every year, as represented 226by the experience of the sickness tables before cited, would be as follows:—

Age. Experience of the Wynds of Edinburgh. Experience of Benefit Societies in Scotland. Mr. Finlaison. Experience under Sanitary Measures.
  Days, &c. Days, &c. Days, &c. Days, &c.
Man, 40 15·1 6·9 9·2 2·75
Woman, 30 11·0 4·2 6·33 2·10
Child, 15 3·5 0·2 5·18 0·17
Total per family 29·6 11·3 20·71 5·02

The experience of the effect of sanitary measures proves the possibility of the reduction of sickness in the worst districts to at least one-third of the existing amount. Amidst classes somewhat better situated, it were possible to reduce the sickness to less than one-third; it were an under estimate to take the probable reduction at one-half. Taking it, however, at one-half, by the new payment of 1½d., or say 2d., weekly for drainage, the occupants of the tenements will save 7½d. of the weekly contribution for an allowance of 10s. per week each during sickness. But the allowance insured to be paid during sickness only replaces the earnings: the sickness, besides its own misery, entails the expense of medical attendance, which, at the usual rate of insurance in medical clubs, would be 5s. or 6s. per annum for such a family. This would also be reduced one-half, making the total family saving at the least 9d. weekly. But the single payment for structural alterations is to be regarded as general, and as a means of affecting the whole of the objects for the whole of the population. For this 2d. each tenement, or 1d. each family, then, they will not only save double the weekly amount, but they will save, in the wear and tear of shoes and clothes, from having a well-drained and well-cleansed instead of a wet and miry district to traverse; they will also save the sickness itself, and each individual will gain a proportionate extension of a more healthy life. In a district where the wages are not one-half the amount above stated, the expenditure for efficient means of prevention would still leave a surplus of gain to the labourer.

These are the chief gains on the side of the labourer; but in general every labourer over and above what he consumes himself, produces enough to repay the interest on capital and cost of superintendence or the profits of the employer. The loss of this extra production is the loss of the community during the whole time the services of the labourer are abridged by sickness or death. To this loss is to be added, where the labourer has made no reserve, the loss of the cost of his unproductive maintenance as a pauper, and of medical attendance during sickness.

The existing insurance charge, then, represents the existing charge on the labouring classes from the loss of wages consequent on sickness; to which charge might be added the existing additional 227charge denoted by the insurance on account of the abridged duration of life and more frequent deaths. The aggregate charge for structural improvements, though amounting to so many millions as a first outlay, is still, for the reasons above stated, only a means of obtaining an incalculably greater gain. But it will be shown that the attainment of that gain is dependent on securities for the application of science to the efficient execution of the combined structural means of prevention. If these were to be no better than those in use in the greater part of the metropolis and the towns throughout the country, and the outlay for drainage were to be an outlay for receptacles to serve as the means of accumulating decomposing deposits, and as latent magazines of pestilential gases, to be themselves cleansed from time to time of the accumulations at a great expense, or to be discharged to pollute the natural streams of the country, then the aggregate expenditure would, to the amount of the inefficiency, be an aggregate of so many millions of money spent in waste.

The immediate cost of sickness and loss of employment falls differently in different parts of the country, but on whatsoever fund it does fall, it will be a gain to apply to the means of prevention that fund which is and must needs otherwise continue to be more largely applied to meet the charge of maintenance and remedies. Admitting, however, as a fact the misconception intended to be obviated, that the necessary expense of structural arrangements will be an immediate charge instead of an immediate means of relief to the labouring classes;—in proof that they have, in ordinary times, not only the means of defraying increased public rates but increased rents, I refer to the fact that the amount expended in ardent spirits (exclusive of wines), tobacco, snuff, beer, &c., consumed chiefly by them, cannot be much less than from 45,000,000l. to 50,000,000l. per annum in the United Kingdom. By an estimate which I obtained from an eminent spirit merchant, of the cost to the consumer of the British spirits on which duty is paid, the annual expenditure on them alone, chiefly by the labouring classes, cannot be less than 24,000,000l. per annum. If visible evidence of the means of payment were needed I would point to every gin-palace in the metropolis, or to similar places throughout the country, which are chiefly supported from the expenditure of the class of persons who are overcrowded and lodge most wretchedly, and its duty-paying building materials represents a portion of the money available as rent for abodes of comparative comfort. The cost of one dram per week would nearly defray the expense of the structural arrangements of drainage, &c., by which some of the strongest provocatives to the habit of drunkenness would be removed. In illustration of the extent of the means of defraying such expenses, even in some of the poorer districts, I would cite the following statement of the minister of the parish of Stevenston, in Ayrshire, given in the last statistical account from that parish:—

228“When the survey by the present incumbent was completed in 1836, the population stood as follows:—

Number of families 833
Number of population 3681.”

The report further states—

“There are in the parish no less than 33 inns, and public-houses, and whisky-shops. A few inns are needed for the accommodation of travellers, and for the transaction of business; but the rest serve as so many decoys to lure and destroy the thoughtless in their neighbourhood. The sale of spirits in grocers’ shops has had a most pernicious influence, especially on the female part of the community, who, when there is no danger of detection, are tempted to add a dram to the other commodities purchased. But the most pernicious practice is that of several families clubbing that they may drink together cheaply in one of their own houses; for in this way husbands, wives, and children all share in the debauch, and drunken habits are perpetuated from generation to generation.

“We are grieved and ashamed to mention the sum annually expended in this parish for ardent spirits. We have learned from the excise-officer of the district the quantity sold in it last year; and without taking into account what is bought at a distance for the use of private families, and exclusive also of all that is expended for wine, and ale, and porter, and beer, and calculating at a rate greatly below the retail price the quantity of ardent spirits sold in the parish, it amounts to the enormous sum of 4125l.

This is nearly at the rate of 5l. a-year per family for ardent spirits alone. To give another example:—

In the town of Bury, with an estimated population of 25,000, the expenditure in beer and spirits is estimated at 54,190l., annually, or 2l. 3s. 4d. for each man, woman, and child, a sum that would pay the rent and taxes for upwards of 6770 new cottages at 8l. per annum each. But on an inquiry made from house to house by the agency of the Manchester Statistical Society into the condition of the labouring population of this town, with such an expenditure on one source of dissipation and ill-health, it appeared that of 2755 of their dwellings examined, only 1668 were decidedly comfortable; that a smaller number were well furnished; that the number of families in which there were less than two persons sleeping in one bed were only 413; that the number in which on the average there were more than two persons to a bed was 1512; that the number of families who had not less than three persons in a bed and less than four, was 773; that the number of families in which there were “at least four persons, but less than five persons to one bed,” was 207. There were 63 families where there were at least five persons to one bed; and there were some in which even six were packed in one bed, lying at the top and bottom—children and adults. Similar results as to misapplied means and numbers crowded together would be ascertained from similar inquiries into the state of the population in other districts.

229Any measures must commend themselves to public support that would effect in the application of the immense fund expended in ardent spirits alone, a change for assured physical comforts and undoubted moral advantages of the highest order. Admitting the validity of statements often made and seldom proved in ordinary times, but which nevertheless may occur, of classes of labourers reduced to the minimum of subsistence, that their wages will not admit of any change of application, then another set of considerations would arise, namely, whether the increased charges for new tenements, or for improvement of the existing tenements, will not compel an advance of wages, and thence be charged in the cost of the commodity produced? And whether if the trade will not allow such advanced wages, the amount of misery of the labouring classes is not really increased by exemptions or legislative facilities, which allow the trade to be carried on only at the expense of the health, the morality and the comfort of the labourers engaged in it, and also at the expense of the ratepayers in providing against the casualties of sickness and mortality?

These, however, are questions that appear to be less likely to occur practically to any important extent than may be supposed. The general difficulty would apparently be with the habits of the adults, who will, to use the illustration presented in a portion of evidence previously cited, “prefer the gin” to the best accommodation that can be offered to them.[37]

Whilst there is such evidence as that above cited to show that there is in ordinary times no real need, there is much evidence to show the impolicy of any exemptions from the payment of properly distributed charges for the requisite public improvement. In general labourers have been losers by exemptions from charges on their tenements, and scarcely in any instance have gained even by exemptions from the payment of their contributions to the poor’s rates.

The effect of administrative proceedings on the condition of the dwellings of large portions of the labouring classes, and thence on the condition of the labourers, is, under varied circumstances, adverted to in the local reports on their sanitary condition, and it is shown that the former parochial administration has operated mischievously in degrading the habitations of the labouring classes, or in checking tendencies to improvement.

The mode by which the condition of the dwellings of the labouring classes has been most extensively deteriorated in England, has been by the facility afforded to owners of cottage tenements, usually when acting as administrators of the Poor Law, to get their own tenants excused from the payment of rates. The legal ground 230for exemption was, not the value of the tenement, but the destitution or inability of the tenant to pay; but inasmuch as the occupation of a well-conditioned tenement, or of a tenement in advance of others, would be popularly considered primâ facie evidence of ability to pay rates, the cottage speculator would not be at the expense to present evidence against the exemption by which he would gain. The general tenor of the evidence is, that the exempted tenements are of a very inferior order, and that the rents collected for them are exorbitant, and such as ought to ensure tenements of a higher quality.

Such residences appear to come in competition very rarely, and, viewed with reference to the place of work, the habitations of the labouring classes in the manufacturing towns extensively partake of the nature of monopolies, and hence the landlord is enabled to exact a price for position, independently of the character or quality of the building, or of the extent of outlay upon it. Where there is any choice, the labouring classes are generally attracted to these tenements by the promise of exemption from the payment of poor’s rates, and are deluded into the payment of a proportionately higher rent. (See the evidence on this subject taken before the House of Commons’ Committee on the Rating of Cottage Tenements in 1838; Questions 1103; 1106; 1222; 1377; 1403; 1504–7; 1637–8; 1594; 2269; 2271; 3124; 2234–5; 2240; 2279; 3106; 3723–4; 3920; 4054; 4071.)

The depressing effect of such exemptions is illustrated by the effect of their withdrawal, in cases where the inmates were not only excused from the payment of rates, but from the payment of rents, as in the instance of the parish cottages. The sales of cottage tenements held by the parish have formed a part of the business of this Commission since its commencement. The effects of the removal of the exemption from the payment of rent consequent upon the sale are generally described as beneficial. The tenor of the evidence on this subject is conveyed in a communication from the Rev. Charles Turner, the chairman of the Tenbury union, quoted in Sir Edmund Head’s report:—

“Mr. Turner also says, ‘When the parish property has been sold, a vast improvement in the external appearance of the cottages has taken place, and consequently a higher rent is demanded, and frequently obtained.’ We thus see one proof, among many, that the sales of parish property which have taken place under the orders of the Commissioners have been beneficial to the public at large; a vast mass of small buildings (amounting, for instance, in the Bromyard union only, to no less than the net worth of 3643l.) has been withdrawn from a state of dilapidation and decay and thrown into the market. Money has been expended on it; it has been put into tenantable and proper repair, and all parties have found their interest in the change. To the parish it formerly yielded nothing. The pauper lived on in filth and wretchedness, in a hovel of which he did not dare to complain, because he held it by sufferance; and the community at large were deprived of an opportunity 231for a profitable outlay of capital on tenements thus kept in mortmain of the worst kind. Such an outlay would not have taken place unless it promised a return, that is to say, unless the class for whose reception the cottages are fitted could in all probability pay for the improved accommodation. With regard to parties living in their own houses, Mr. Turner says, ‘There are many poor persons living in their own cottages, which are of a very inferior description, wretchedly comfortless, and have only one floor. They are decidedly worse than those which are rented, both as to accommodation and state of repairs; but these, for the most part, have been built on the waste and unenclosed land.’”

The mischievous effect of exemptions from rating on the ground of poverty, in bringing down buildings to the exempted scale, and in preventing advances beyond it, is strikingly displayed in Ireland, where all houses not exceeding the value of 5l. are exempted from contribution to the county cess. The general consequence is that, the farmers’ residences throughout the country are kept down to the level of mere cottages or inconvenient hovels, to avoid passing the line of contribution, and only pass it by indulgent or evasive valuations. But the supposed exemption (which, if it be not often made up by increased rent, is a circumstance peculiar to the smaller holdings in that country)—an exemption which no doubt was procured as a boon, was productive of further ill effects to the parties intended to be benefited.[38] Being kept by the immediate expense and the fear of their share of the tax to thatched roofs, these thatched roofs afforded facilities to incendiarism, since any one might put a cinder in the thatch, and run away without detection; hence it has placed the inmates so far under continued terror in disturbed times, that it would frequently have been worth the expense of putting on a slate roof as a measure of preventive police. The depression of the tenement is practically a depression of the habits and condition of the inhabitants.

I may assume that it has been proved that the labouring classes do possess the means of purchasing the comforts of superior dwellings, and also that they are not benefited by exemptions from the immediate charges wherever requisite to defray the expense of those superior comforts.

I shall now show how little it is in the power of these classes voluntarily to obtain these improvements,—setting aside entirely the consideration of the obstacles arising from depraved habits already formed.

The workman’s “location,” as it is termed, is generally governed by his work, near which he must reside. The sort of house, and often the particular house, may be said to be, and usually is, a monopoly. On arriving at manhood in a crowded neighbourhood, if he wishes to have a house, he must avail himself of the first 232vacancy that presents itself; if there happen to be more houses vacant than one, the houses being usually of the same class, little range of choice is thereby presented to him. In particular neighbourhoods near Manchester, and in other parts of the county of Lancaster, in some other manufacturing and in some rural districts, instances occur of the erection of improved ranges of larger and better constructed houses for the labouring classes; and, making deduction for the occasional misuse of the increased space by subdividing them and overcrowding them with lodgers, the extent to which these improved tenements are sought, and the manner in which an improved rent is paid, afford gratifying evidence of an increasing disposition prevalent amongst artisans to avail themselves of such improvements. These opportunities, however, are comparatively few, and occur in districts where multitudes continue in the most depressed condition, apparently without any power of emerging from it.

The individual labourer has little or no power over the internal structure and economy of the dwelling which has fallen to his lot. If the water be not laid on in the other houses in the street, or if it be unprovided with proper receptacles for refuse, it is not in the power of any individual workman who may perceive the advantages of such accommodations to procure them. He has as little control over the external economy of his residence as of the structure of the street before it, whether it shall be paved or unpaved, drained, or undrained. It may be said that he might cleanse the street before his own door. By some local acts the obligation to do so is imposed on the individual inhabitants. By those inhabitants who have servants this duty may be and is performed, but the labourer has no servant; all of his family who are capable of labour are out a-field, or in the manufactory or the workshop, at daybreak, and return only at nightfall, and this regulation therefore is unavoidably neglected.

Under the slavery of the existing habits of labourers, it is found that the faculty of perceiving the advantage of a change is so obliterated as to render them incapable of using, or indifferent to the use of, the means of improvement which may happen to come within their reach. The sense of smell, for instance, which generally gives certain warning of the presence of malaria or gases noxious to the health, appears often to be obliterated in the labourer by his employment. He appears to be insensible to anything but changes of temperature, and there is scarcely any stench which is not endured to avoid slight cold.

It would have been matter of sincere congratulation to have met with more extensive evidence of spontaneous improvement amongst the classes in receipt, of high wages, but nearly all the beneficial changes found in progress throughout the country are changes that have arisen from the efforts of persons of the superior classes. Inquiries have been made for plans of improved 233tenements, but none have been found which can be presented as improvements originating with the class intended to be accommodated. In the rural districts, the worst of the new cottages are those erected on the borders of commons by the labourers themselves. In the manufacturing districts, the tenements erected by building clubs and by speculating builders of the class of workmen, are frequently the subject of complaint, as being the least substantial and the most destitute of proper accommodation. The only conspicuous instances of improved residences of the labouring classes found in the rural districts are those which have been erected by opulent and benevolent landlords for the accommodation of the labourers on their own estates; and in the manufacturing districts, those erected by wealthy manufacturers for the accommodation of their own workpeople.

As in England so in Scotland, the most important improvements have been effected through enlightened landlords. The members of the Highland Society, who have made the best exertions for improving the condition of the labouring population in the rural districts, and have offered prizes for the best-constructed cottages and the best plans, competition being open to all parties, got nothing from the lower classes, and only succeeded in exciting the interest of the most intelligent proprietors, and getting improvements effected through their exertions. Mr. Loudon, in an appeal on behalf of the agricultural labourers, lays it down as a primary position that, “In general, proprietors ought not to entrust the erection of labourers’ cottages on their estates to the farmers, as it is chiefly owing to this practice that so many wretched hovels exist in the best cultivated districts of Scotland and Northumberland.”

Employers’ influence on the Health of Workpeople by means of improved Habitations.

Preparatory to the exposition of the means of protection of the public health provided by the existing law, and of the modifications that appear to be requisite for the attainment of the object in question, I would submit for consideration practical examples of its partial attainment by means of improved dwellings; combined with examples of other improvements effected in the moral condition of the labouring classes, by the judicious exercise of the influence possessed by their superiors in condition.

Throughout the country examples are found of a desire, on the part of persons of the higher class, to improve the condition of the poorer classes by the erection of dwellings of a superior order for their accommodation. These, however, are generally at a cost beyond any return to be expected in the present state of the habits 234of the people in the shape of rent, or any return in money for an outlay on an ordinary investment of capital. But the instances about to be noticed, though generally originating in benevolence, and without the expectation of a return, do, in the results, prove that in money and money’s worth, the erection of good tenements affords the inducement of a fair remuneration to the employers of labour to provide improved accommodation for their own labourers.

Wherever it has been brought under observation, the connexion of the labourer’s residence with his employment as part of the farm, or of the estate, or of the manufactory on which he is employed, and as part of the inducement to service, appears to be mutually advantageous to the employer and the employed. The first advantages are to the person employed.

We everywhere find (in contradiction to statements frequently made in popular declamations) that the labourer gains by his connexion with large capital: in the instances presented in the course of this inquiry, of residences held from the employer, we find that the labourer gains by the expenditure for the external appearance of that which is known to be part of the property,—an expenditure that is generally accompanied by corresponding internal comforts; he gains by all the surrounding advantages of good roads and drainage, and by more sustained and powerful care to maintain them; he gains by the closer proximity to his work attendant on such an arrangement, and he thus avoids all the attacks of disease, occasioned by exposure to wet and cold, and the additional fatigue in traversing long distances to and from his home to the place of work, in the damp of early morning or of nightfall. The exposure to weather, after leaving the place of work, is one prolific cause of disease, especially to the young. When the home is near to the place of work, the labourer is enabled to take his dinner with his family instead of at the beer-shop.

The wife and family generally gain, by proximity to the employer or the employer’s family, in motives to neatness and cleanliness by their being known and being under observation; as a general rule, the whole economy of the cottages in bye-lanes and out-of-the-way places appears to be below those exposed to observation. In connexion with property or large capital, the labourer gains in the stability of employment, and the regularity of income incidental to operations on a large scale; there is a mutual benefit also in the wages for service being given in the shape of buildings or permanent and assured comforts; that is, in what would be the best application of wages, rather than wholly in money wages.

In the manufacturing districts there is a mutual and large gain by the diminution of the labour of the collection of rents, the avoidance of the risks of non-payment, and also in the power of control for the prevention of disturbances, and the removal of tenants of bad character and conduct.

Surprise is frequently expressed at the enormous rents ranging 235up to and beyond 20 per cent. on the outlay, exacted by the building speculators in the towns. But when the experience of these descriptions of tenements is examined, it is found that the labour of collecting the rents, and the labour of protecting the property itself against waste from unprincipled tenants, is such as to prove that accommodation given to the disorderly and vicious is scarcely remunerative at any price. The tenants are loosely attached, and large numbers migratory, partly from the nature of their work; and having little or no goods or furniture, they have no obstacles to removal; they frequently, before absconding, commit every description of waste; they often burn shelves and cupboard-doors, and the door itself, and all timber that can be got at for the purpose.[39] An objection frequently made against laying on the water in houses inhabited by a population addicted to drinking is, that they would sell the receptacles and destroy the pipe, and let the water run to waste, for the sake of the lead. The expense and delay of legal remedies precludes redress for such injuries.

In some of the worst neighbourhoods in Manchester, the whole population of a street have risen to resist the service of legal process by the civil officers. In the course of the Constabulary Inquiry I was informed by the superintendent of the old police of that town, that one of the most dangerous services for a small force was attending to enforce ejectments. This they had often to do, cutlass in hand, and were frequently driven off by showers of bricks from the mobs. The collection of the rents weekly in such neighbourhoods is always a disagreeable service, requiring high payment. This, and the frequent running away of the tenant, and the waste, greatly reduce the apparently enormous rent obtainable from this poorer class of tenants. For all these vices, risks, and defaults of others, the frugal and well-conducted workman who has no choice of habitation, is compelled to pay in the shape of an increased rent; he is most largely taxed in the increased rent, necessary as an insurance for the risks and losses occasioned by the defective state of legal remedies.

All these risks the employer is enabled to diminish or avoid, by selecting his own tenants, and he has the best means of doing so; by reservations of rent on the payment of wages, he saves the labour and risks of collection; nor will the vicious workman so readily commit waste in the house belonging to his employer as in one belonging to a poorer and unconnected owner. The employer has, moreover, the most direct interest in the health and strength of his workpeople.

236It is not supposed that these are arrangements which can be universal, or readily made the subject of legislation. At the commencement of some manufactures, the additional outlay may not be practicable. But those manufactures have generally had the greatest success where good accommodation for the workpeople was comprehended in the first arrangements. When, however, a manufactory has been once established and brought into systematic operation, when the first uncertainties have been overcome and the employer has time to look about him, there appears to be no position from which so extensive and certain a beneficial influence may be exercised as that of the capitalist who stands in the double relation of landlord and employer. He will find that whilst an unhealthy and vicious population is an expensive as well as a dangerous one, all improvements in the condition of the population have their compensation. In one instance, of a large outlay on improved tenements, and in provision for the moral improvement of the rising generation of workpeople, by an expensive provision for schools, the proprietor acknowledged to me that although he made the improvements from motives of a desire to improve the condition of his workpeople, or what might be termed the satisfaction derived from the improvements as a “hobby,” he was surprised by a pecuniary gain found in the superior order and efficiency of his establishment, in the regularity and trustworthiness of his workpeople, which gave even pecuniary compensation for the outlay of capital and labour bestowed upon them. He stated that he would not, for 7000l., change the entire set of workpeople on whom care had been bestowed for the promiscuous assemblage of workpeople engaged in the same description of manufactures.

I would now submit for consideration, with the view to promulgation for voluntary adoption, instances of the arrangements which have been found most beneficial in their operation on the condition of the manufacturing population.

The most prominent of these instances was pointed out to our attention in the course of the Factory Inquiry, in the habitations connected with the mills superintended by the late Mr. Archibald Buchanan, at Catrine, in Ayrshire. Nearly 1000 persons are employed in these mills, the places of work are well ventilated and carefully kept; the village where the workpeople live is advantageously situated, and the houses are well built. They are thus described by his son in answer to my inquiries:—

“The system that has been pursued here, and which was adopted by my father for the purpose of giving the workers a greater interest in the place, at the same time that it gave them an object to be careful and saving, while it raised them in point of standing and respectability, has been different from that generally acted upon at country works. Instead of our company continuing the proprietors of the dwelling-houses and letting them to the workpeople, my father gave the workers every encouragement 237to save money, so that they might themselves become the proprietors of a house and small garden, either by making a purchase from the company or fencing ground and building a house for themselves. This plan has been very successful, and many of our people are proprietors of excellent houses with gardens attached, which afford them employment and amusement in their spare hours; and among themselves they have a horticultural society and an annual competition. Though many houses have been sold in this way, a considerable part of the village is still the property of our company, and those that have been built by other parties are in accordance with a plan of streets laid down; and I should say are about equal to the others in comfort and conveniences, it being the interest of the person investing his money to get the best return he can for it; and that he may get his house let and a fair rent for it, he must build as good a house as the tenant